Associations of α- and γ-tocopherol during early life with lung function in childhood

Rajesh Kumar, Ryan P. Ferrie, Lauren C. Balmert, Matthew Kienzl, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, Diane R. Gold, Joanne E. Sordillo, Ken Kleinman, Carlos A. Camargo, Augusto A. Litonjua, Emily Oken, Joan M Cook-Mills*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Tocopherol isoforms may regulate child lung growth and spirometric measures. Objective: Our aim was to determine the extent to which plasma α-tocopherol (α-T) or γ-tocopherol (γ-T) isoform levels in early childhood or in utero are associated with childhood lung function. Methods: We included 622 participants in the Project Viva cohort who had lung function at a mid-childhood visit (age 6-10 years). Maternal and child tocopherol isoform levels were measured by HPLC at the second trimester and 3 years of age, respectively. Multivariable linear regression models (adjusted for mid-childhood body mass index z scores, maternal education, smoking in pregnancy, and prenatal particulate matter with diameter of <2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) particulate exposure) stratified by tertiles of child γ-T level were used to assess the association of α-T levels with FEV1 and forced vital capacity (FVC) percent predicted. Similarly, models stratified by child α-T tertile evaluated associations of γ-T levels with lung function. We performed similar analyses with maternal second trimester tocopherol isoform levels. Results: The median maternal second trimester α-T level was 63 μM (interquartile range = 47-82). The median early-childhood level was 25 μM (interquartile range = 20-33 μM). In the lowest tertile of early-childhood γ-T, children with a higher α-T level (per 10 μM) had a higher mid-childhood FEV1 percent predicted (β = 3.09; 95% CI = 0.58-5.59 and a higher FVC percent predicted (β = 2.77; 95% CI = 0.47-5.06). This protective association of α-T was lost at higher γ-T levels. We did not see any consistent associations of second trimester levels of either α-T or γ-T with mid-childhood FEV1 or FVC. Conclusion: When γ-T levels were in the lowest tertile, a higher early-childhood α-T level was associated with better lung function at mid-childhood. Second trimester maternal plasma α-T concentration was 3-fold higher than in the adult nonpregnant female population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1349-1357.e3
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Tocopherol isoforms
  • child
  • lung function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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