The rise, the fall and the renaissance of Vitamin E

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Abstract

This review deals with the expectations of Vitamin E ability of preventing or curing, as a potent antioxidant, alleged oxidative stress based ailments including cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, cataracts, macular degeneration and more. The results obtained with clinical intervention studies have highly restricted the range of effectiveness of this vitamin. At the same time, new non-antioxidant mechanisms have been proposed. The new functions of Vitamin E have been shown to affect cell signal transduction and gene expression, both in vitro and in vivo. Phosphorylation of Vitamin E, which takes place in vivo, results in a molecule provided with functions that are in part stronger and in part different from those of the non-phosphorylate compound. The in vivo documented functions of Vitamin E preventing the Vitamin E deficiency ataxia (AVED), slowing down the progression of non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH), decreasing inflammation and potentiating the immune response are apparently based on these new molecular mechanisms. It should be stressed however that Vitamin E, when present at higher concentrations in the body, should exert antioxidant properties to the extent that its chromanol ring is unprotected or un-esterified.

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Azzi, A., Meydani, S. N., Meydani, M., & Zingg, J. M. (2016). The rise, the fall and the renaissance of Vitamin E. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 595, 100–108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abb.2015.11.010

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