Am J Clin Nutr 1990 (Sep); 52 (3): 557–563
Meydani SN, Barklund MP, Liu S, Meydani M, Miller RA, Cannon JG,
Morrow FD, Rocklin R, Blumberg JB
USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging,
Boston, MA 02111
The effect of vitamin E supplementation on the immune response of healthy older adults was studied in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Subjects (n = 32) resided in a metabolic research unit and received placebo or vitamin E (800 mg dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) for 30 d. Alpha-tocopherol content of plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), delayed-type hypersensitivity skin test (DTH), mitogen-stimulated lymphocyte proliferation, as well as interleukin (IL)-1, IL-2, prostaglandin (PG) E2, and serum lipid peroxides were evaluated before and after treatment. In the vitamin E-supplemented group 1) alpha-tocopherol content was significantly higher (p less than 0.0001) in plasma and PBMCs, 2) cumulative diameter and number of positive antigen responses in DTH response were elevated (p less than 0.05), 3) IL-2 production and mitogenic response to optimal doses of concanavalin A were increased (p less than 0.05), and 4) PGE2 synthesis by PBMCs (p less than 0.005) and plasma lipid peroxides (p less than 0.001) were reduced. Short-term vitamin E supplementation improves immune responsiveness in healthy elderly individuals; this effect appears to be mediated by a decrease in PGE2 and/or other lipid-peroxidation products.