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Open Access Research

Antioxidant intake, plasma antioxidants and oxidative stress in a randomized, controlled, parallel, Mediterranean dietary intervention study on patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Linda Hagfors1*, Per Leanderson2, Lars Sköldstam3, Jan Andersson3 and Gunnar Johansson1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Food and Nutrition, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden

2 Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden

3 Department of Medicine, Lasarettet SE-621 84, Visby, Sweden

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2003, 2:5  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-2-5

Published: 30 July 2003

Abstract

Background

Previously we have reported that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) obtained a significant reduction in disease activity by adopting a Mediterranean-type diet. The present study was carried out to investigate the antioxidant intake, the plasma levels of antioxidants and a marker of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde) during the study presented earlier.

Methods

RA patients randomized to either a Mediterranean type diet (MD group; n = 26) or a control diet (CD group; n = 25) were compared during a three month dietary intervention study. Their antioxidant intake was assessed by means of diet history interviews and their intake of antioxidant-rich foods by a self-administered questionnaire. The plasma levels of retinol, antioxidants (α- and γ-tocopherol, β-carotene, lycopene, vitamin C and uric acid) and urinary malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker for oxidative stress, were determined using high performance liquid chromatography. The Student's t-test for independent samples and paired samples were used to test differences between and within groups. For variables with skewed distributions Mann-Whitney U-test and Wilcoxon signed ranks test were performed. To evaluate associations between dietary intake of antioxidants, as well as between disease activity, MDA and antioxidants we used Pearson's product moment correlation or Spearman's rank correlation.

Results

The MD group had significantly higher intake frequencies of antioxidant-rich foods, and also higher intakes of vitamin C (p = 0.014), vitamin E (p = 0.007) and selenium (p = 0.004), and a lower intake of retinol (p = 0.049), compared to the CD group. However, the difference between the groups regarding vitamin C intake was not significant when under- and over-repoters were excluded (p = 0.066). There were no changes in urine MDA or in the plasma levels of antioxidants (after p-lipid adjustments of the tocopherol results), from baseline to the end of the study. The levels of retinol, vitamin C and uric acid were negatively correlated to disease activity variables. No correlation was found between antioxidant intake and the plasma levels of antioxidants.

Conclusions

Despite an increase in reported consumption of antioxidant-rich foods during the Mediterranean diet intervention, the levels of plasma antioxidants and urine MDA did not change. However, the plasma levels of vitamin C, retinol and uric acid were inversely correlated to variables related to RA disease activity.