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Maternal and neonatal plasma antioxidant levels in normal pregnancy, and the relationship with fatty acid unsaturation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2007

Gerard S. Oostenbrug
Affiliation:
Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Ronald P. Mensink*
Affiliation:
Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Monique D. M. Al
Affiliation:
Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Adriana C. van Houwelingen
Affiliation:
Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Gerard Hornstra
Affiliation:
Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht, The Netherlands
*
Corresponding author: Dr R. P. Mensink, fax +31 433 670 976, email r.mensink@hb.unimaas.nl
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Abstract

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During pregnancy, maternal plasma concentrations of the peroxidation-susceptible polyunsaturated fatty acids (polyenes) increase. In addition, the proportion of polyenes is higher in neonatal plasma than in maternal plasma. To study whether these increased amounts of polyenes affect antioxidant levels, we measured lipid-soluble antioxidants in maternal and neonatal plasmas obtained during thirty-five normal pregnancies. These values were then related to the degree of phospholipid-fatty acid unsaturation. Maternal plasma levels of tocopherols and lutein increased during pregnancy, as assessed at 14, 22, and 32 weeks of gestation. However, β-carotene levels decreased, and levels of other carotenoids remained unchanged. Retinol levels were only decreased at 32 weeks of gestation. The value for α-tocopherol: phospholipid-polyene unsaturation index (UI) also increased during pregnancy, despite the observed increase in UI. Corresponding ratios for several carotenoids and retinol, however, decreased during pregnancy. After delivery, maternal plasma levels of δ-tocopherol and β + γ-tocopherol, as well as β + γ-tocopherol: UI values, were lower than values at 32 weeks of gestation. Umbilical-cord plasma antioxidant levels and antioxidant: UI values, except retinol: UI, were significantly lower than maternal values. Significant and consistent cord ν. maternal correlations were observed for plasma levels of β + γ-tocopherol, lutein and β-carotene, but not for δ-tocopherol, α-tocopherol, lycopene, α-carotene, and retinol. In conclusion, although during pregnancy maternal plasma tocopherol levels increased concurrently with, or more than, fatty acid unsaturation in plasma phospholipids, the decrease in carotenoid: UI values during gestation, the decrease in maternal plasma levels of δ-tocopherol and β + γ-tocopherol after delivery, and the low neonatal antioxidant levels merit further investigation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 1998

References

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