Preeclampsia and antioxidant nutrients: decreased plasma levels of reduced ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, and beta-carotene in women with preeclampsia

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1994 Jul;171(1):150-7. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(94)90462-6.


Objective: Our purpose was to investigate the plasma levels of three potent antioxidant nutrients in women with preeclampsia.

Study design: Fasting venous blood samples were collected from 30 women with preeclampsia and from 44 women with uncomplicated pregnancies. The criteria for recruitment included age 15 to 35 years, gestational age 28 to 42 weeks, singleton pregnancy, intact membranes, absence of labor contractions, and absence of any other medical complication concurrent with preeclampsia. Reduced ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, and beta-carotene levels were assayed with high-pressure liquid chromatography.

Results: Plasma levels of reduced ascorbic acid were significantly decreased in patients with mild and severe preeclampsia (p < 0.01). Plasma alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene levels were significantly decreased only in severe preeclampsia compared with controls (p < 0.05 and p < 0.05, respectively).

Conclusion: In patients with preeclampsia antioxidant nutrients may be utilized to a greater extent to counteract free radical-mediated cell disturbances, resulting in a reduction in antioxidant plasma levels. Water-soluble antioxidant nutrients may initially be consumed, followed by lipid-soluble antioxidants.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood*
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood*
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Vitamin E / blood*
  • beta Carotene


  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid