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Chronic and debilitating diseases (i.e. cancer, heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline) adversely impact the quality and length of life of the developed world. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the consumption of carotenoids, a class of compounds found in red, orange, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of developing many chronic diseases. Recent research has suggested that, in fact, carotenoid metabolites may produce these bioactive effects. No attention has been given to the metabolism of these compounds during digestion. To elucidate the putative biological effects of these metabolites, we first need to understand how they are formed, where they are formed, and at what levels they are present. The first objective of this project will be to generate a series of carotenoid metabolites in vitro to facilitate the search for metabolites at low levels in biological samples. UPLC-PDA-MS/MS methods will be developed to separate and identify the parent carotenoids and carotenoid metabolites. Our second objective will be to conduct a 2-way crossover study in healthy humans to identify the carotenoid metabolites produced in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract during digestion. Subjects will be fed a meal containing either the carotenoid, and gastric, duodenal, blood chylomicrons, and blood plasma samples will be taken over six hours post-meal consumption. The stability of the carotenoids during digestion, and the formation and transport of targeted metabolites will be analyzed. Overall, this information essential to understand how these compounds may confer protection against chronic diseases.
Dr. Rachel Kopec, was recently hired as an assistant professor at The Ohio State University under the Discovery Themes initiative Foods for Health. Dr. Kopec spent her early years at Ohio State, receiving her B.S. in Pharmacy and B.S. in Business in 2006. After discovering the limitations of drug-based therapy, she decided to switch directions and pursue an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in nutrition where there was a greater opportunity to positively impact human health. er thesis work, performed under Dr. Steven J. Schwartz, focused on the deposition, metabolism, and bioactivity of carotenoids (the compounds which impart yellow, orange, and red hues to common fruits and vegetables). After graduating in 2012, she spent 3 years at INRA where she received an AgreenSkills postdoctoral fellowship to study the metabolism of carotenoids during human digestion.
Dr. Kopec’s multiple years of targeted LC-MS/MS analyses complement her more recent adventures in untargeted metabolomics. Dr. Kopec will continue using metabolomics, as well as targeted analytical techniques, to better understand the interplay of metabolic pathways of fat soluble vitamin uptake, utilization, and excretion. She will also use metabolomics to study the capacity of chlorophylls to reduce the adverse impact of persistent fat-soluble environmental toxins (like those found in plastics) on human health. Dr. Kopec contributes a great part of her success to local and international collaborations with a diverse group of specialties and countries.
Kopec, R.E., Failla, M.L., 2017. Recent advances in the bioaccessibility and bioavailability of carotenoids and effects of other dietary lipophiles. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. Doi: 10.1016/j. jfca.2017.06.008.
Cooperstone, J.L., Goetz, H.J., Riedl, K.M., Harrison, E.H., Schwartz, S.J., Kopec, R.E., 2017. Relative contribution of ∝-carotene to postprandial vitamin A concentrations in healthy humans after carrot consumption. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 106(1):59-66.
Kopec, R.E., Gleize, B., Borel, P. Demarchelier, C., CarisVeyrat, C., 2017. Are lutein, lycopene, and β-carotene lost through the digestive process? Food and Function. 8:1494-1503.
Goetz, H.J., Kopec, R.E., Riedl, K.M., Cooperstone, J.L., Narayanasamy, S., Curley, R.W. Jr., Harrison, E.H., Schwartz, S.J., 2016. An HPLC-MS/MS method for the separation of ∝-retinyl esters from retinyl esters. Journal of Chromatography B. 1029:68-71.
Kopec, R.E., Schick, J., Tober, K.L., Riedl, K.M., Francis, D., Young, G.S., Schwartz, S.J., Oberyszyn, T.M., 2015. Sex differences in skin carotenoid deposition and acute UVB-induced skin damage in SKH-1 hairless mice after consumption of tangerine tomatoes. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 59(12):2491-2501.
May 2016 : Poster Presentation Award, Gordon Research Conference on Carotenoids
July 2014 : Poster Presentation Award, 17th International Carotenoid Symposium
October 2013-October 2015 : AgreenSkills Postdoctoral Fellowship
June-July 2013: Long-term program award, du Conseil Scientifique de l’Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse
June 2012 : Clinical Research Award Winner, Poster Presentation. 9th Annual Russell Klein Nutrition Research Symposium
August 2010-August 2011 : Presidential Fellowship, The Ohio State University
June 2010 : Best Poster Award, 6th International Congress on Pigments in Food
2010 Russell Klein Award, for Excellence in Scholarship and Service
June 2010 : Nutrition and Cancer Award Winner, Poster Presentation, 7th Annual Russell Klein Nutrition Research Symposium
June 2009 : Basic Research Award Winner, Poster Presentation. 6th Annual Russell Klein Nutrition Research Symposium
May 2006 : College of Pharmacy Honoree, President’s Salute to Undergraduate Academic Achievement
April 2005 : First Place, Poster Presentation, Food Science Division. CFAES Undergraduate Research Forum