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Nutrition. 2009 Apr;25(4):400-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2008.10.003. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

Prospective analysis of serum carotenoids, vitamin A, and tocopherols in adults with short bowel syndrome undergoing intestinal rehabilitation.

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Nutrition and Health Science Program, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



Carotenoids, vitamin A, and tocopherols serve important roles in many key body functions. However, availability of these compounds may be decreased in patients with short bowel syndrome (SBS) due to decreased oral intake of fruits and vegetables and/or decreased intestinal absorption. Little information is available on serum concentrations of carotenoids, vitamin A, and tocopherols during chronic parenteral nutrition (PN) or during PN weaning. The aim of this study was to prospectively examine serum concentrations of a wide variety of carotenoids, vitamin A, and tocopherols in patients with SBS undergoing an intensive 12-wk intestinal rehabilitation program.


Twenty-one PN-dependent adult patients with SBS were enrolled in a 12-wk intestinal rehabilitation program, which included individualized dietary modification, multivitamin supplementation, and randomization to receive subcutaneous placebo (n = 9) or human growth hormone (0.1 mg . kg(-1) . d(-1); n = 12). PN weaning was initiated after week 4 and advanced as tolerated. Serum concentrations of carotenoids, vitamin A, and tocopherols were determined at baseline and at weeks 4 and 12.


A significant percentage of subjects exhibited low serum concentrations for carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol at study entry, and a few subjects had low concentrations of retinol (5%). Carotenoid and vitamin A valves did not improve over time, while alpha-tocopherol levels rose. Serum alpha-tocopherol concentration was negatively associated with PN lipid dose (r = -0.34, P < 0.008).


Patients with SBS are depleted in diet-derived carotenoids despite oral and intravenous multivitamin supplementation and dietary adjustment during intestinal rehabilitation and PN weaning. Reduction of PN lipid infusion may improve serum alpha-tocopherol concentrations.

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