Clinical Use: Clinicians use this test as a conformational test of nutritional deficiency of beta-carotene or lipid malabsorption, detection of excessive ingestion of carotene, and investigation of lycopenemia.
Background: Carotenes are provitamins, or precursors of vitamin A. Both elevated and deficient levels of carotene can have clinical consequences for patients.

The highest levels of carotene are found in the serum of individuals ingesting large amounts of vegetables, particularly carrots. These people may have a slight yellowish tinge of the skin but the sclera are not discoloured. More moderate elevations can be observed in patients with diabetes mellitus, myxedema, hyperlipidemia, or chronic nephritis.

Decreased serum levels may be seen in individuals with nutritional deficiencies including anorexia nervosa, malabsorption, and steatorrhoea.

Lycopenemia, in which a patient has a yellow-orange pigmentation of the skin, is a very rare condition resulting from excessive consumption of lycopene-containing fruits and berries. Individuals with lycopenemia have normal carotene levels.

Reference Ranges: 0.1 – 0.85mg/l
Associated Diseases:
Patient Preparation: None required
Specimen Requirements: Serum – SST sample, Plasma – Lithium Heparin.
Turnaround Time: 4 weeks
Additional Information:
Referred Test: Referred test
Location: Rotherham General Hospital NHS Trust