A 12:1 weight ratio of beta-carotene (βC):vitamin a (VA) provides equivalent VA value for mongolian gerbils with marginal VA status

C. M. Lee, J. D. Lederman, N. E. Hofmann, J. W. Erdman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vitamin A (VA) deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in children in developing countries. Dietary intervention with foods rich in carotenoids, such as βC, has been suggested as a long term solution to this problem. The purpose of this study was to examine the utilization of βC as a source of VA during different stages of VA deficiency. Male, 4-5 week old. Mongolian gerbils were fed a semi-purified diet deficient in VA and βC for either 8 (branchpoint 1) or 10 (branchpoint 2) weeks. At each branchpoint 40 gerbils were divided and placed on new diets that were either unsupplemented or supplemented with VA (20.7 nmol/g diet) and/or βC (145.9 nmol/g diet) for 5 d. Three days prior to termination, 3-4 animals per group were fasted overnight and dosed orally with 14C labeled βC. Animals fed VA and/or βC had total liver VA stores of 477-613 and 367-566 nmol for branchpoints 1 and 2, respectively, significantly higher than animals that continued on the deficient diet (172 and 120 nmol, respectively). All groups were able to convert the 14C-βC to VA for storage in the liver, but the amount of 14C-VA in the liver was less in the more deficient animals. Recovery of 14C from groups fed βC was higher in feces, and lower in liver, lung, and kidney tissues when compared to groups not fed βC. This may be due to saturation of the enterocytes with βC from the 2 days of βC feeding prior to dosing, reducing absorbtion of the 14C-βC. These results show that a 12:1 weight ratio of βC:VA is sufficient to provide equivalent VA value for gerbils with marginal VA status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A180
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


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