Cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterised by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and reduced absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, as well as chronic lung inflammation and an associated increased oxygen free radical generation. Patients with CF have been found to have lower levels of beta-carotene and it has been suggested that they would benefit from beta-carotene supplementation (Cobanoglu et al 2002, Walkowiak et al 2004). This suggestion is supported by a study of 52 patients with CF that found a statistically significant correlation between serum beta-carotene and the clinical course of the disease as indicated by faecal elastase-1 and FEV-| (Walkowiak et al 2004), together with a study showing that the plasma levels of beta-carotene and vitamin E increased and the plasma levels of TNF-alpha and malondialdehyde decreased after 6 months of beta-carotene supplementation (Cobanoglu et al 2002). This is further supported by a RCT of 24 CF patients supplemented with up to 50 mg/day beta-carotene for 12 weeks and 10 mg/day beta-carotene for a further 12 weeks, which found a significant decrease in oxidative stress, correction of total antioxidative capacity and improved pulmonary response to treatment in the supplemented group (Rust et al 2000).
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