A comparison of vitamin E status and associated pregnancy outcomes in maternal–infant dyads between a Nigerian and a United States population

Caleb Cave, Corrine Hanson, Marina Schumacher, Elizabeth Lyden, Jeremy Furtado, Stephen Obaro, Shirley Delair, Nicholas Kocmich, Amy Rezac, N. I. Izevbigie, Matthew Van nOrmer, Ammar Kamil, Elizabeth McGinn, Katherine Rilett, Elizabeth Elliott, Rebecca Johnson, Kara Weishaar, E. K. Olateju, G. A. Akaba, E. A. AnigilajeTahiru Tahiru, Ann Anderson-Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, and vitamin E has powerful anti-oxidant properties with the potential to impact health outcomes. Tocopherol isomers of vitamin E differ in their ability to modulate inflammation and vary in concentration in diets containing high proportions of processed versus unprocessed foods. The purpose of this study was to compare vitamin E status and associated pregnancy outcomes (mode of delivery, chorioamnionitis, APGARs (measure of appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, respiration), gestational age at delivery, and fetal growth) between maternal–infant dyads in a developed and a developing nation to identify potentially modifiable differences that may impact pregnancy and neonatal outcomes and provide a way to improve maternal and neonatal health. Plasma tocopherol levels were evaluated in 189 Midwestern United States (US) mother–infant pairs and 99 Central Nigerian mother–infant pairs. Maternal and infant concentrations of α-, γ-, and δ-tocopherol were measured using HPLC with diode-array detection. Descriptive statistics were calculated and tocopherol concentrations were associated with clinical outcomes such as mode of delivery, chorioamnionitis, APGARS, and fetal growth. Alpha-and γ-tocopherol levels were higher in the US mothers, (alpha: 12,357.9 (175.23–34,687.75) vs. 8333.1 (1576.59–16,248.40) (mcg/L); p < 0.001) (gamma: 340.7 (224.59–4385.95) vs. 357.5 (66.36–1775.31) (mcg/L); p < 0.001), while δ-tocopherol levels were higher in the Nigerian mothers (delta: 261.7 (24.70–1324.71) vs. 368.9 (43.06–1886.47) (mcg/L); p < 0.001). US infants had higher γ-tocopherol levels than Nigerian infants (203.1 (42.53–1953.23) vs. 113.8 (0.00–823.00) (mcg/L); p < 0.001), while both the Nigerian mothers and infants had higher α:γ-tocopherol ratios (8.5 vs. 26.2, and 8.9 vs. 18.8, respectively; p < 0.001). Our results in both populations show associations between increased circulating γ-tocopherol and negative outcomes like Caesarian sections, in contrast to the associations with positive outcomes such as vaginal delivery seen with increased α:γ-tocopherol ratios. Growth was positively associated with α-and γ-tocopherols in cord blood in the US population, and with cord blood δ-tocopherols in the Nigerian population. Tocopherol levels likely impact health outcomes in pregnancy in a complicated metabolism across the maternal–fetal axis that appears to be potentially influenced by culture and available diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1300
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 14 2018


  • Infant
  • Maternal
  • Nigeria
  • Pregnancy
  • Tocopherols
  • United States
  • Vitamin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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