Graduation Date

Fall 12-14-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Dr. Ann Anderson-Berry

Second Advisor

Dr. Corrine Hanson

Third Advisor

Dr. Ghada Soliman

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Whitney Goldner


Lutein + zeaxanthin are carotenoids most recognized in eye health, but less is known about their status and transfer during pregnancy. While quantified in maternal and umbilical cord blood, they have never been analyzed in placenta tissue. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation is to firstly quantify lutein + zeaxanthin concentrations in human placenta and to later correlate with levels in maternal dietary intake, maternal serum, and umbilical cord blood. Proportions of lutein + zeaxanthin will also be compared within diet, placenta, maternal serum, and umbilical cord blood among additionally analyzed carotenoids including lycopene, β-cryptoxanthin, α-carotene, and β-carotene. Lutein + zeaxanthin concentrations across all samples will be analyzed for relationships with maternal demographics and infant birth outcomes. An IRB-approved cross-sectional study enrolled 82 mother-infant pairs for infants born at Nebraska Medicine Hospital (Omaha, NE). Placenta, maternal serum, and umbilical cord blood samples were collected and analyzed for carotenoids concentrations. Mothers completed a food frequency questionnaire to identify usual intake. Demographic and birth outcome data were collected from the electronic medical record. Lutein + zeaxanthin were present in human placenta at median 0.105 micrograms/gram (mcg/g) and were significantly correlated with levels in maternal serum (r=0.57; p

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