Placental transfer and tissue distribution of vitamin E in pregnant rabbits

A. Bortolotti, G. L. Traina, M. M. Barzago, A. Celardo, M. Bonati

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α-Tocopherol (vitamin E) is widely prescribed in neonatal intensive care units, in large doses and by different schedules, for the prevention of retrolental fibroplasia, intraventricular haemorrhage, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and haemolytic anaemia. Since the efficacy of the drug in premature newborns seems related to early administration, the physicochemical characteristics of the drug itself and available formulations limit the major therapeutic aim of promptly raising levels of vitamin E in premature babies during the early hours of life. It has thus been suggested that vitamin E be given to the mother before delivery to produce higher drug concentrations in the newborn. To see whether this would work, the tissue distribution and transplacental transfer of vitamin E were studied in six pregnant rabbits at steady-state after an i.v. bolus + infusion to give a mean venous blood concentration of about 325 μmol l-1 of α-tocopherol acetate, corresponding to about 30 μmol l-1 of α-tocopherol. Endogenous levels were measured in six control pregnant rabbits. In treated animals α-tocopherol was increased in liver, spleen, placenta, lung, mammary gland, blood, and bile but not in brain, heart, fat, muscle or adrenals probably because distribution into these tissues is very slow. Vitamin E levels in the placenta of treated mothers were 15 times those of control rabbits, but the vitamin was not detectable in amniotic fluid and only very low levels were found in fetal blood. These findings do not indicate any advantage of giving mothers α-tocopherol acetate before delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-688
Number of pages10
JournalBiopharmaceutics and Drug Disposition
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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