gms | German Medical Science

50. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds)
12. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie (dae)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie
Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie

12. bis 15.09.2005, Freiburg im Breisgau

Association of carotenoids, tocopherols and vitamin C in plasma with allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitization in adults

Meeting Abstract

  • Iris Kompauer - GSF, Neuherberg
  • Joachim Heinrich - GSF, Neuherberg
  • Guenther Wolfram - TU München, Freising
  • Jakob Linseisen - TU München, DKFZ, Freising/Heidelberg

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie. Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie. 50. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 12. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Epidemiologie. Freiburg im Breisgau, 12.-15.09.2005. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2005. Doc05gmds061

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 8, 2005

© 2005 Kompauer et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




In the last decades Western countries have witnessed an increase in allergic diseases like hay fever and asthma [1], [2] although very recent results suggest a flattening of rising asthma incidence in affluent societies [3], [4]. Because dietary factors like intake of antioxidants changed during the same period, it has been postulated that they might influence the development of allergic diseases [5], [6], [7]. Additionally there is evidence that allergic diseases are mediated by oxidative stress, which means an imbalance between reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and antioxidants [8]. Carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C act as non-enzymatical antioxidants. Additionally, vitamin E is thought to act by inhibition of IgE production and membrane stabilisation [9], [10] vitamin C by inhibition of specific prostaglandin synthesis [7], [9]. In this study we focus on the contribution of carotenoids, tocopherols and vitamin C in plasma to allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitization and use the concentration of these micronutrients in plasma as a marker of intake, absorption and subsequent metabolism.

Materials and Methods

In this study we estimated the plasma concentration of six carotenoids, α- and γ-tocopherol and vitamin C as biomarkers of intake, absorption and subsequent metabolism of these nutrients. Their association with allergic rhinitis and sensitization was assessed by means of unconditional logistic regression models. Data from a cross-sectional study on representative data of dietary and lifestyle habits of the population of Bavaria, Germany, were analyzed. Measurement of the six carotenoids α-carotene, β-carotene, lycopene, lutein/zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, as well as of α-tocopherol, γ-tocopherol and vitamin C were performed in the plasma samples of 547 adults between 19 and 81 years of age. Participants with specific IgE ≥ 0.7 kU/l in serum were categorized as sensitized.


We observed a negative association between total plasma carotenoids and the prevalence of allergic rhinitis (p for trend=0.0332); results for lycopene failed to reach statistical significance (p=0.0608). Other single carotenoids, tocopherols or vitamin C were unrelated to allergic rhinitis. Allergic sensitization was negatively associated with plasma γ-tocopherol (p for trend=0.0410). No other antioxidant was significantly related to allergic sensitization.


Our finding of a negative association between sum of six measured carotenoids and allergic rhinitis suggests that a high intake of various fruit and vegetables might reduce the risk for allergic diseases. The results of a negative association between γ-tocopherol, but not α-tocopherol in plasma might be a sign for a different role of these two tocopherols in allergic sensitization. It would be interesting to investigate the two tocopherols separately in future studies, especially in countries with high dietary intake of γ-tocopherol.


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