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Am J Hypertens. 2003 Aug;16(8):665-72.

Plasma carotenoids, retinol, tocopherols, and lipoproteins in preeclamptic and normotensive pregnant Zimbabwean women.

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Center for Perinatal Studies, Swedish Medical Center, 747 Broadway, Suite 4 North, Seattle, WA 98122, USA.



We examined the relationship between maternal plasma lipoprotein and antioxidant status with risk of preeclampsia among women delivering at Harare Maternity Hospital, Zimbabwe.


One hundred seventy-three pregnant women with preeclampsia and 186 controls were included in a case-control study. Maternal plasma total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and total triglycerides were measured using enzymatic methods. Plasma carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin), retinol, and tocopherols (alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol) were determined using high performance liquid chromatography. We used logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Preeclampsia risk increased with successively higher quartiles of plasma triglyceride (OR: 1.00, 1.70, 2.00, 5.26, with the lowest quartile as referent; P for trend <.001). We noted an inverse association between preeclampsia risk and HDL cholesterol concentrations (OR: 1.00, 0.87, 0.66, 0.68, with the first quartile as the referent group; P for trend =.169), although the trend was not statistically significant. After adjusting for confounders, we noted decreases in preeclampsia risk with increasing concentrations of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin, respectively. Women with beta-carotene concentrations in the highest quartile, as compared with those in the lowest quartile experienced a 50% decreased risk of preeclampsia (OR = 0.50, 95% CI 0.25-1.00). There was no clear pattern of preeclampsia risk with lycopene concentrations or with concentrations of gamma- and alpha-tocopherol.


Our results are consistent with some, although not all, previous reports. Prospective studies are needed to determine the temporal relationship between observed alterations in lipid and antioxidant concentrations in preeclamptic pregnancies.

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