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Scand J Gastroenterol. 1998 Jun;33(6):644-9.

Altered plasma and mucosal concentrations of trace elements and antioxidants in active ulcerative colitis.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Institute of Pathologic Anatomy, University of Padua, Italy.



The production of free radicals is increased in inflammatory bowel disease, and trace elements are crucial components of several antioxidants. Trace elements deficiency may therefore compromise the defense against oxidative damage. The aims of this study were to measure plasma and tissue concentration of trace elements and antioxidants and to relate this to disease activity.


A 10-ml blood sample and six colonic biopsy specimens were obtained from 24 patients with either active ulcerative colitis or in remission and 10 patients with irritable bowel syndrome for measurement of trace elements and trace element-dependent enzymes.


Patients with moderately active disease had significantly lower plasma iron, selenium, and glutathione peroxidase levels than patients in remission and controls, whereas no significant differences were found between the zinc and copper values of patients and controls. Mucosal concentrations of zinc and metallothionein were reduced, whereas iron and glutathione peroxidase concentrations were increased in patients with endoscopically active disease as compared with controls and patients in remission.


Patients with ulcerative colitis have altered plasma and tissue levels of trace elements and antioxidant-related enzymes. The resulting reduced protection against free radicals may contribute to the inflammatory process.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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