Circulating antioxidants in ulcerative colitis and their relationship to disease severity and activity

Author(s): Ramakrishna BS, Varghese R, Jayakumar S, Mathan M, Balasubramanian KA


Oxygen free radicals produced by neutrophils are important in the pathogenesis of mucosal damage in ulcerative colitis. Vitamin A, vitamin E and cysteine in the plasma can scavenge free radicals. In the present study, plasma levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, cysteine, cystine and protein-bound cysteine were measured in active ulcerative colitis before and immediately after treatment of the active disease, and correlated with disease severity, extent and activity. Plasma vitamin A and cysteine were significantly reduced in active ulcerative colitis compared with controls. Levels of vitamin E, cystine and protein-bound cysteine were not significantly altered in active ulcerative colitis. Vitamin A and cysteine concentrations returned to normal levels (P < 0.05) within 2 weeks of treating active colitis. There were significant negative correlations between clinical severity and the plasma concentrations of vitamin A and cysteine. Plasma cysteine levels also correlated inversely to disease extent. Depletion of the circulating antioxidants, vitamin A and cysteine, in active ulcerative colitis is likely to be important in the pathophysiology of the disease.

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