Biology of the neonate

Effect of subadequate maternal vitamin-A status on placental transfer of retinol and beta-carotene to the human fetus.

PMID 8724650


The placental transfer of retinol and beta-carotene was assessed based on maternal serum, cord serum and placental levels at term parturition in women with adequate (n = 15; serum retinol > 20 micrograms/dl) and subadequate (n = 16; serum retinol < or = 20 micrograms/dl) vitamin-A status. There was no difference in retinol and beta-carotene levels in placenta and cord serum between these groups. However, differences in the relation of maternal, placental and cord blood components were observed between women with adequate and subadequate vitamin-A status. In women with subadequate status, circulating fetal retinol levels correlated with placental retinol levels, and maternal serum beta-carotene correlated with placental retinol. Within this group, maternal serum beta-carotene and cord serum retinol correlated significantly in women with serum retinol levels lower than 15 micrograms/dl. These results suggest that beta-carotene may be a precursor of retinol in placenta and that this conversion may depend on the nutritional status of the mother, being particularly effective in a more depleted state.