Rachel Kopec

Rachel Kopec

AgreenSkills session, year: 1st session, 2013

Receiving laboratory: SQPOV Security and quality of plant products PACA

Country of origin : USA

E-Mail: rachel.kopec@paca.inra.fr



Mobility project

Stability of carotenoids through the digestive process: in vitro and in vivo studies of metabolism

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.

Biography & research interests

Chronic and debilitating diseases (i.e. cancer, heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline) adversely impact the quality and length of life of the developed world. My love of applied chemistry led me to obtain a BSc in Pharmacy from the Ohio State University in 2006.  During this time, I realized that many drugs allow people to live with a chronic disease, but do not cure the disease itself and often have negative side effects. At the same time, I learned that ~30% of the incidence of cancer, for example, could be prevented by a change in diet alone.  Thus, I decided that I could have a bigger impact on population health by studying nutrition. My interdisciplinary PhD thesis research (completed in 2012) focused on carotenoids, a class of compounds found in red, orange, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables, which are believed to prevent chronic disease.

Selected publications

Kopec, R.E., Cooperstone, J.L., Schweiggert, R.M., Riedl, K.M., Harrison, E.H., Francis, D.M., Clinton, S.K., Schwartz, S.J. 2014. Avocado consumption enhances human post-prandial provitamin A absorption and conversion from a novel high β-carotene tomato sauce and from carrots.  Journal of Nutrition. 144(8):1158-1166

Schweiggert, R.M., Kopec, R.E., Villalobos, M.G., Högel, J., Quesada, S., Esquivel, P., Schwartz, S.J., Carle, R. 2014. Carotenoids are more bioavailable from papaya than from tomato and carrot in humans: a randomized crossover study. British Journal of Nutrition. 111(3):490-498

Kopec, R.E., Schweiggert, R.M., Riedl, K.M., Carle, R., Schwartz, S.J. 2013. Comparison of an HPLC-PDA and HPLC-MS/MS method for the analysis of carotenoids and fat soluble vitamins in triglyceride rich lipoproteins.  Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 27(12):1393-1402

Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J.  Carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases and presence of apo-carotenoids in biological matrices.  In: Carotenoid Cleavage Products.  P. Winterhalter, ed. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society. 2013: 31-41

Eroglu, A., Hruszkewycz, D.P., dela Sena, C., Narayanasamy, S., Riedl, K.M., Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J., Curley, R.W.Jr., Harrison, E.H.  2012.  Naturally-occurring eccentric cleavage products of provitamin A β-carotene function as antagonists of retinoic acid receptors.  Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287(19):15886-15895

Kopec, R.E., Cooperstone, J.L., Cichon, M., Schwartz, S.J.  Analysis Methods of Carotenoids.  In: Analysis of Antioxidant-Rich Phytochemicals.  Z. Xu and L. Howard, eds. Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell. 2012: 105-148

Fleshman M.K, Lester, G.E., Riedl, K.M., Kopec, R.E., Narayanasamy, S., Curley, R.W. Jr,, Schwartz, S.J., Harrison, E.H2011.  Carotene and novel apocarotenoid concentrations in orange-fleshed Cucumis melo melons: determinations of β-carotene bioaccessibility and bioavailability.  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 59(9):4448-4454

Kopec, R.E., Riedl, K.M., Harrison, E.H., Curley, R.W. Jr., Hruszkewycz, D.P., Clinton, S.K., Schwartz, S.J. Identification and quantification of apo-lycopenals in fruits, vegetables, and human plasma. 2010. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58(6):3290-3296

Story, E.N., Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J., Harris, G.K. An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene. In: Annual Reviews in Food Science and Technology. M.P. Doyle and T. Klaenhammer, eds. Vol 1. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews, 2010:189-210

Awards & patents

Clinical Research Award Winner, Poster Presentation. 9th Annual Russell Klein Nutrition Research Symposium, June 2012

Presidential Fellowship, The Ohio State University, August 2010-August 2011

Best Poster Award, 6th International Congress on Pigments in Food, June 2010


E-Mail: rachel.kopec@paca.inra.fr

Website(s): http://www7.paca.inra.fr/les_recherches/pole_production_horticole_integree_phi__1/securite_et_qualite_des_produits_d_origine_vegetale

CV: Download curriculum vitae