Effects of lutein on oxidative stress in the term newborn: a pilot study

Neonatology. 2010;97(1):36-40. doi: 10.1159/000227291. Epub 2009 Jul 7.


Background: Oxidative stress (OS) plays a crucial role in pathological conditions during the early neonatal period. The newborns are susceptible to oxidative damage due to high metabolic rate and low levels of antioxidant enzymes. Lutein has been found to have protective functions in adult humans as antioxidant.

Aim: To evaluate the effects of lutein on OS in newborns. We tested the hypothesis that lutein would act both by increasing antioxidant capacity and inhibiting OS.

Methods: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-center study. 20 healthy term newborns were assigned to receive lutein or placebo (lutein and control group, respectively) at 12 and 36 h after birth. Total hydroperoxides (TH), as marker of OS, and biological antioxidant potential (BAP), as marker of antioxidant power, were detected on cord blood and at 48 h of life in all babies.

Results: TH significantly increased from birth to 48 h in the control group (p = 0.02), but not in the lutein group. In the lutein group, BAP significantly increased after 48 h (p = 0.02), showing a strengthening of antioxidant activity due to lutein. At 48 h of life, compared with those in the control group, neonates assigned to receive lutein had significantly lower TH levels (p = 0.04) and higher BAP levels (p = 0.028).

Conclusions: Lutein administration in newborns increases the levels of BAP decreasing TH. The enhancement of antioxidant activity in plasma clearly results in protecting newborn from perinatal OS. These preliminary results, adding a new contribution in antioxidant strategies, strongly require to be confirmed by RCT.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Apgar Score
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Birth Weight
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology
  • Lutein / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Peroxides / blood
  • Pilot Projects
  • Term Birth / drug effects*
  • Term Birth / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Peroxides
  • Lutein