Research: VALSECCHI and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 53


VALSECCHI and colleagues, VI Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Milan, H San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Italy set out to assess alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) serum levels in a population of pregnant women affected by different hypertensive disorders.



177 third-trimester pregnant women participated in this study: 63 women were affected by hypertension; 69 had preeclampsia, 26 were affected by chronic hypertension and 19 women were normotensive controls. In 39 out of the 158 hypertensive patients, pregnancy was complicated by intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR). Serum levels of vitamin E were determined by high-pressure liquid chromatography (hplc).


Alpha-tocopherol serum levels were not significantly different among gestational hypertensive, preeclamptic, chronic hypertensive patients and the controls. There was a significant reduction in alpha-tocopherol levels when women with IUGR and those with a normally grown foetus were compared. This significant reduction was maintained when the different classes of hypertension were analysed.


Reduction of antioxidant nutrients, particularly alpha-tocopherol, is not a feature of preeclampsia and appears to be better correlated with the presence of placental insufficiency, rather than maternal disease.


Valsecchi L et al. Serum levels of alpha-tocopherol in hypertensive pregnancies. Hypertension in Pregnancy 18(3): 189-95. 1999.

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