Red blood cell vitamin E concentrations in fetuses are related to but lower than those in mothers during gestation. A possible association with maternal lipoprotein (a) plasma levels

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Jul;173(1):42-51. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(95)90167-1.


Objective: The purpose was to establish which blood characteristic of vitamin E status were highly correlated between mothers and fetuses during gestation.

Study design: Twenty-four pregnant women were selected because of suspicion of toxoplasmosis or other disease and malformation or intrauterine growth delay justifying cord blood puncture. After maternal and fetal blood was collected, analyses of plasma and red blood cell vitamin E contents were performed together with analyses of standard lipid parameters and lipoprotein (a) in maternal plasma and fatty acid compositions of maternal and fetal red blood cells.

Results: The maternal population was characterized by a plasma lipid-normalized vitamin E mean content higher (3.5 mmol/mol lipids) than usually found in nonpregnant adults. There was no relationship between plasma and red blood cell vitamin E contents. This was also true for fetuses. When the vitamin E status of mothers was compared with that of fetuses, we found no correlation in plasma vitamin E in the whole population and in the high lipoprotein (a) (> 300 mg/L) and low lipoprotein (a) (< 300 mg/L) groups. In contrast, statistically significant correlations appeared between maternal and fetal red blood cell contents and red blood cell relative charges in vitamin E in the whole population, whereas still higher correlations occurred in the high lipoprotein (a) group (r = 0.94 for the red blood cell content). Improved correlations were also found in the high lipoprotein (a) group for the interrelationship between vitamin E and plasma lipid contents (cholesterol and triglycerides), whereas improvement was noted in the low lipoprotein (a) group by positive correlation between age and vitamin E red blood cell content or red blood cell relative charge.

Conclusion: Determination of red blood cell vitamin E and plasma lipoprotein (a) in mothers could be useful in antenatal blood analysis in cases of risk of prematurity at birth, to prevent peroxidative membrane damage in neonates, and > 85% of the mothers in the current population would benefit from vitamin E supplementation from the viewpoint of the fetal red blood cell vitamin E requirement in spite of the rather high maternal lipid-normalized vitamin E plasma content.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apolipoproteins / blood
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoprotein(a) / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamin E / blood*
  • Vitamin E / physiology


  • Apolipoproteins
  • Lipids
  • Lipoprotein(a)
  • Vitamin E