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Interpretive Handbook

Test 62166 :
Beta-Carotene, Serum

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Beta-carotene is a member of the family of carotenoids, highly pigmented (red, orange, yellow) fat-soluble vitamins that are the precursors or provitamins of vitamin A. The principle provitamin A compounds include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Carotenoids occur in high levels in many fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and others. The most significant effect of these provitamins is their conversion to vitamin A, which plays a major role in vision as well as reproduction, embryonic growth, and immune function.


The highest levels of carotene can be found in the serum of individuals ingesting large amounts of vegetables, primarily carrots. These people may have a slight yellowish tinge of the skin but the sclera of the eye is not discolored. Decreased serum levels may be seen in individuals with nutritional deficiencies including anorexia nervosa, malabsorption, and steatorrhea.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Detection of a nutritional deficiency of carotene


Detection of excessive ingestion of carotene

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Low beta-carotene concentrations in the serum are indicative of vitamin insufficiency. Elevated levels of beta-carotene may have clinical implications.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Lower serum beta-carotene concentrations have been associated with smoking and ethanol consumption.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

> or =18 years: 2.3-65.0 mcg/dL

<18 years: not established

Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2000 pp 325-382

2. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. Fourth edition. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood, DE Bruns. St. Louis, MO, Elsevier Saunders, 2006

3. Gueguen S, Herbeth B, Siest G, Leroy P. An isocratic liquid chromatographic method with diode-array detection for the simultaneous determination of u-tocopherol, retinol, and five carotenoids in human serum. J Chromatogr Sci 2002;40:69-76

4. Thibeault D, Su H, MacNamara E, Schipper H: Isocratic rapid liquid chromatographic method for simultaneous determination of carotenoids, retinol, and tocopherols in human serum. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci 2009;877:1077-1083