Vitamin E could fight obesity-related liver disease

In a sort of "accidental" scientific discovery, researchers found that vitamin E might be a potent weapon against obesity-related liver disease.

A group of colleagues at Case Western Reserve University stumbled on the findings while studying how vitamin E deficiency affects the central nervous system.

Using liver tissue to test surgical techniques, they were surprised to find that the mice involved in the study were in the critical stages of nonalcoholic stetohepatitis (NASH), which is essentially a condition characterized by inflammation of the liver due to fat accumulation and oxidative stress.

Mice show NASH symptoms

To test the link between vitamin E and liver disease, the team studied a mouse that was genetically engineered to lack a certain protein that regulates vitamin E levels in the body. This animal showed increased fat deposition and liver injury, but when given vitamin E supplements, the NASH symptoms were reversed or minimized.

"These findings may have a significant impact on public health as the vast majority of adults in the United States do not consume the amount of vitamin E recommended by the National Institute of Medicine," said Danny Manor, an associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in a press release.

How it works

It appears that vitamin E works to offer protection through antioxidative properties, which are known to help prevent other types of chronic conditions, such as cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease. There is currently no treatment for NASH, which makes it a top cause for the necessity of liver transplants.

Manor notes that "simple and affordable dietary intervention may benefit people at risk for this debilitating disease." The current recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams a day. Food sources rich in the vitamin include things like nuts, seeds and vegetable oils as well as leafy greens.

Manor hopes that further research can determine how NASH progresses from mild liver damage to severe failure, and that the current findings will help pave the way toward understanding the different stages of the disease progression.

The research team presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Boston this week.

Source: Science Daily

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