Ironing Out Oxidative Stress

ZURICH — Boosting levels of vitamin E can reduce oxidative stress damage to the immune system, claims a study published online in the March edition of The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Causes of oxidative stress include UV radiation, air pollution, drinking and infection.

But scientists are now claiming that supplementing the diet with the appropriate vitamins may offer an answer in controlling the damage caused by free oxygen radicals.

The researchers examined the impact of oxidative stress on T cells that may repair enzyme Gpx4. When they did, the T cells died off as they divided. This means the immune system cannot eliminate the pathogen and infection becomes chronic.

This is the enzyme responsible for repairing oxidative damage to the cell membrane.

Through the use of laboratory mice, the scientists were able to show that by mixing high doses of vitamin E into the animals’ food, there was enough antioxidant to protect T cell membranes from damage.

The level of vitamin E supplemented to the mouse food was 10 times the normal content.

The scientists concluded that a genetic defect in a major part of a cell’s antioxidative machinery can be treated with a high dose of vitamin E.

They say patients with neurodegenerative diseases or diabetes who suffer massive oxidative stress could benefit from vitamin E supplementation.

http://jem.rupress.org/content/212/4/555

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