British Journal of Nutrition

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British Journal of Nutrition (2010), 103:735-741 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © The Authors 2009

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Human and Clinical Nutrition

Reduced circulating antioxidant defences are associated with airway hyper-responsiveness, poor control and severe disease pattern in asthma

Lisa G. Wooda1a2a3 c1 and Peter G. Gibsona1a2a3

a1 Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Hunter Medical Research Institute, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
a2 Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Disease, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
a3 Cooperative Research Centre for Asthma and Airways, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Article author query
wood lg [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
gibson pg [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


Dietary antioxidants are important in protecting against oxidative stress. We have previously demonstrated that circulating dietary antioxidant levels are reduced in asthma. The present study examined the variation in dietary antioxidant levels in asthma, according to airway responsiveness, asthma control and clinical asthma pattern. Peripheral blood was collected from forty-one subjects with stable, persistent asthma. Airway responsiveness was assessed by hypertonic saline challenge. Asthma control was assessed using the Asthma Control Questionnaire. Clinical asthma pattern was determined using Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) criteria. Whole-blood carotenoids (β-carotene, lycopene, α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin) and tocopherols (α-, δ-, γ-tocopherol) were measured by HPLC. Plasma antioxidant potential (AOP) was determined by colorimetric assay (OxisResearch, Portland, OR, USA). Asthmatic subjects with airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) had reduced levels of β-carotene and α-tocopherol compared with those without AHR. Subjects with uncontrolled asthma had low levels of AOP compared with those with controlled or partly controlled asthma. Subjects with a severe persistent clinical asthma pattern had reduced levels of α-tocopherol compared with those with a mild to moderate asthma pattern. We conclude that asthmatic subjects with AHR, uncontrolled asthma and a severe asthma pattern have impaired antioxidant defences and are thus most susceptible to the damaging effects of oxidative stress. This highlights the potential role for antioxidant supplementation in these subjects.

(Received May 21 2009)

(Revised September 04 2009)

(Accepted September 04 2009)

(Online publication October 29 2009)

Key Words:Antioxidants; Carotenoids; Tocopherols; Asthma


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Lisa G. Wood, fax +61 2 49855850, email


Abbreviations: ACQ, Asthma Control Questionnaire; AHR, airway hyper-responsiveness; FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 s