Serum carotenoids and markers of inflammation in nonsmokers

Stephen B. Kritchevsky, Andrew J. Bush, Marco Pahor, Myron D. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


One explanation for discrepant results between epidemiologic studies and randomized trials of β-carotene and cardiovascular disease may be a failure to consider inflammation as a confounder. To evaluate the potential for such confounding, the authors relate the serum concentrations of five carotenoids (α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and lutein/zeaxanthin) to levels of three inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and white blood cell count) measured during the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, 1988-1994. The analysis included 4,557 nonsmoking participants aged 25-55 years. Adjusted concentrations of all five carotenoids were significantly lower in those with C-reactive protein levels above 0.88 mg/dl (p = 0.001). There was a trend toward lower adjusted β-cryptoxanthin concentrations with increasing level of fibrinogen (p value test for trend = 0.01), but other carotenoids were not related. Many of the carotenoid concentrations were lower among participants with high white blood cell counts. After log transformation, only adjusted mean β-carotene levels were significantly lower in those with white blood cell counts above 7.85 x 109/liter (p < 0.01). These cross-sectional data do not clarify the biologic relation between carotenoids and C-reactive protein but, to the extent that the carotenoids are associated with C-reactive protein levels, a carotenoid-heart disease association may be, in part, an inflammation-heart disease association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1071
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000


  • Acute-phase proteins
  • Beta carotene
  • C-reactive protein
  • Carotenoids
  • Cross-sectional studies
  • Fibrinogen
  • Inflammation
  • Leukocyte count

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