Increased prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the consequences of the current obesity epidemic. NAFLD is a major form of chronic liver disease that is highly prevalent in obese and overweight adults and children. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the severe form of NAFLD, and uncontrolled inflammation as displayed in NASH has been identified as one of the key events in enhancing hepatic carcinogenesis. Lycopene is a non-provitamin A carotenoid and the pigment principally responsible for the characteristic deep-red color of ripe tomato and tomato products, as well as some fruits and vegetables. Lycopene’s innate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have generated research interests on its capacity to protect against human diseases that are associated with oxidative stress and inflammation. In addition, differential mechanisms of lycopene metabolism including endogenous cleavage by carotenoid cleavage oxygenases (BCOs), generate lycopene metabolites that may also have significant impact on human disease development. However, it remains to be elucidated as to whether lycopene or its metabolites apolycopenoids have protective effects against obesity-related complications including inflammation and tumorigenesis. This article summarizes the in vivo
experiments that elucidated molecular mechanisms associated with obesity-related hepatic inflammation and carcinogenesis. This review also provides an overview of lycopene metabolism, and the molecular pathways involved in the potential beneficial properties of lycopene and apolycopenoids. More research is clearly needed to fully unravel the importance of BCOs in tomato carotenoid metabolism and the consequence on human health and diseases.