Maternal and fetal vitamin E concentrations and selenium-vitamin E interrelationships in dairy cattle

R. J. Van Saun, T. H. Herdt, H. D. Stowe

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Paired dam-fetus liver and serum samples were collected from 101 pregnant dairy cattle at slaughter to determine mean fetal and maternal liver and serum vitamin E concentrations, relationships between maternal and fetal vitamin E status and interrelationships between selenium and vitamin E status. Fetal age was estimated from fetal crown-to-rump length. Fetal α-tocopherol concentration ranged from 0 to 31.4 μg/g dry wt with a mean of 7.1 μg/g dry wt and from 0 to 0.92 μg/ml with a mean of 0.29 μg/ml for liver and serum, respectively. Mean maternal liver (12.5 μg/g dry wt) and serum (2.16 μg/ml) α-tocopherol concentrations and vitamin E to cholesterol ratio (1.45) were 1.8, 7.4 and 3.5 times greater (P < 0.0001) than fetal means, indicating limited placental transfer of vitamin E to the fetus. Gestational age had no effect on maternal vitamin E concentration, however, fetal tissue α-tocopherol concentration declined (P < 0.05) with fetal age. Maternal serum α-tocopherol concentration and fetal age were found to best predict fetal α-tocopherol concentration in serum. Interrelationships between selenium and vitamin E status were minimal. These data suggest inefficient placental transfer of vitamin E, resulting in minimal protection of the neonate from vitamin E-deficiency disease as a result of prepartal maternal supplementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1164
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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