Vitamin E and Health
Posted October 13, 2009
What role does vitamin E play in human health and disease? On May 22-24, 2004, some 150 experts tackled this puzzle at a New York Academy of Sciences conference. The meeting covered a variety of topics, from the basic biology of vitamin E to clinical studies of its effectiveness in thwarting disease:
- Session I: how humans obtain, metabolize, and absorb vitamin E;
- Session II: how vitamin E controls the production of key cell signaling molecules;
- Session III: how vitamin E regulates the activity of genes;
- Session IV: how vitamin E protects the body from oxidative stress;
- Session V: the role that vitamin E plays in inflammation;
- Session VI: how vitamin E can prevent illness, including respiratory infection and Alzheimer's disease; and
- Session VII: the results of clinical trials and observational studies that examine vitamin E's role in cardiovascular disease.
Finally, Session VIII turned to future directions, with a pair of roundtable discussions. Two panels of eminent researchers engaged participants in in-depth analysis of the important issues addressed during the entire conference.
Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.
Multimedia available from:
Frank J. Kelly (King's College London)
Achim Stocker (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
John K. Lodge (University of Surrey)
John F. Keaney, Jr. (Boston University School of Medicine)
Angelo Azzi (University of Bern)
Joseph Lunec (University of Leicester)
Iswarlal Jialal (University of California, Davis)
Lucilla Poston (King's College, London/St. Thomas' Hospital, London)
Anatol Kontush (INSERM, Hôpital Pitié-Salpetrière, Paris)
Mohsen Meydani (Tufts University)
J. Michael Gaziano, (Brigham and Women's Hospital)
and audio from two roundtable discussions
For a complete list of sponsors, please click the Sponsorship tab above.
Facts about Vitamin E
Useful FAQs from the National Institutes of Health.
Micronutrient Information Center
From the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, a quick rundown of vitamin E's function and role in disease.
Consumer Lab: Vitamin E
Tests of commercially available supplements, with a summary as well of the vitamin's role in nutrition and cell integrity.
Berkeley Wellness Guide
A summary of clinical trials, with recommendations for the public.
A quick review of the literature, in relation to diseases and symptoms.
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Paul, R., S. G. Zhang, B. P. Eliceiri et al. 2001. Src deficiency or blockade of Src activity in mice provides cerebral protection following stroke. Nature Med. 7: 222-227.
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Sen, C. K., S. Khanna, S. Roy & L. Packer. 2000. Molecular basis of vitamin E action: tocotrienol potently inhibits glutamate-induced pp60(c-Src) kinase activation and death of HT4 neuronal cells. J. Biol. Chem. 275: 13049-13055. Full Text
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Frank J. Kelly, PhD
School of Health and Life Sciences
King's College, London
Frank Kelly holds the chair in environmental health at King's College, London, and is director of the environmental research group. From these dual positions he is able to combine his two main research interests—free radical/antioxidant biochemistry and the impact of atmospheric pollution on human health. Over the last 15 years his lung biology group has focused on working with a number of patient groups including preterm babies, asthmatics, heart disease patients, lung transplant recipients, and cystic fibrosis patients. Many of these studies have resulted in important findings concerning antioxidant status in heart disease and pre-eclampsia.
Kelly, who received his PhD from Queens University, Belfast, is interested in developing new approaches to investigate oxidative stress in humans. These include examining antioxidant biokinetics through the use of stable isotopes and using the lungs' extracellular antioxidant defense network to access the toxicity of air pollutants. Other interests in this area relate to understanding the basis of why some apparently healthy subjects are particularly susceptible to air pollution. Kelly has held several positions in learned societies and is currently the president of the Society for Free Radical Research in Europe.
Mohsen Meydani, DVM, PhD
Vascular Biology Program
Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center
Mohsen Meydani is professor of nutrition at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director of the university's vascular biology laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center. He conducts research in the area of dietary antioxidants and oxidative stress in vascular function and aging, with a focus on the role of vitamin E in nutrition, aging, age-associated diseases. He also studies the role and molecular mechanisms of oxidants and antioxidants—including vitamin E, carotenoids, and polyphenols—on immune-endothelial cell interactions and the modulation of angiogenesis, as they relate to the development of atherosclerosis and cancer. In 1996 he was recognized for outstanding achievement among the Tufts faculty.
Meydani received his DVM from the University of Tehran and a PhD in nutrition from Iowa State University. He is the recipient of the 1993 Japan National Food Research Institute Award for a foreign specialist and the USDA Manuscript of the Year award for 1990 and 1991. He has served as president of American Aging Association, on the Antioxidant Advisory Panel of the Alliance for Aging Research, and on grant review committees for the National Institute on Aging, the National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Currently he serves on the board of directors of the American Aging Association and the New England Free Radical/Oxygen Society (NEFROS). He is an associate editor of AGE: The Journal of the American Aging Association and a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Nutrition and Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Lester Packer, PhD
Health Sciences Center
University of Southern California
Lester Packer, currently adjunct professor in the department of molecular pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Southern California Health Sciences Center, is one of the world's leading researchers on antioxidants. Research conducted in his laboratory has led to the discovery of the redox antioxidant network. A current focus is nutritional genomics of antioxidants in regulation of gene expression in cells and tissues using high density oligonucleotide microarray techniques. These investigations are leading to an entirely new and broader understanding of how biological antioxidants work and are important in health and disease.
From 1960 to 2000 Packer served in various research and professorial capacities at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1989 his laboratory discovered that α-lipoic acid was the most potent antioxidant known and could serve as a driving force in the antioxidant network. His studies have also elucidated the antioxidant properties of tocopherols and tocotrienols—the stereoisomers of vitamin E, carotenoids, ubiquinones (co-enzyme Q), and bioflavanoids, including bioflavanoid rich botanical extracts as gingko biloba (EGb 761) and pine bark (pycnogenol). The lab's research also led to a fundamental new understanding of how free radicals and antioxidants are important in protecting human skin against exposure to ultraviolet irradiation and ozone.
Packer has edited more than 80 books, authored over 800 articles, is a member of eight professional societies and seven editorial boards of scientific journals, and has organized numerous conferences in the area of his research interests. He is the founder and honorary president of the Oxygen Club of California (OCC), past president of the Society for Free Radical Research International, and until 2001 vice president of UNESCO's Global Network on Molecular and Cell Biology. His numerous awards include three honorary doctoral degrees. He earned his PhD in microbiology and biochemistry from Yale University in 1956.
Angelo Azzi, MD
Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD
Regina Brigelius-Flohé, PhD
Swarna Ekanayake Mudiyanselage, MD
J. Michael Gaziano, MD, MPH
Kishorchandra Gohil, PhD
Sung Nim Han, PhD, RD
Regine Heller, MD
Malcolm J. Jackson, PhD, FRCPath
Ishwarlal Jialal, MD, PhD
Nesrin Kartal-Özer, PhD
John F. Keaney, Jr., MD
Frank J. Kelly, PhD
George L. King, MD
Eric A. Klein, MD
Anatol Kontush, PhD
Klaus Kraemer, PhD
John K. Lodge, PhD
Joseph Lunec, PhD, DSc, FRCP
Mohsen Meydani, DVM, PhD
Simin Nikbin Meydani, DVM, PhD
David P. R. Muller, PhD
Kalanithi Nesaretnam, PhD
Etsuo Niki, PhD
Ute Obermüller-Jevic, PhD
Lester Packer, PhD
Robert S. Parker, PhD
Sampath Parthasarathy, PhD
Lucilla Poston, PhD
Gerald Rimbach, PhD
Chandan K. Sen, PhD
Helmut Sies, MD, PhD
Achim Stocker, PhD
Roland Stocker, PhD
William L. Stone, PhD
Maret G. Traber, PhD
Govind T. Vatassery, PhD
Francesco Violi, MD
Walter Willett, MD, DrPH
We gratefully acknowledge these contributors.