ArticlePDF Available

Effects of Vitamin E on Cognitive Performance during Ageing and in Alzheimer’s Disease


Abstract and Figures

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that primarily protects cells from damage associated with oxidative stress caused by free radicals. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which increases during ageing and is considered a major contributor to neurodegeneration. High plasma vitamin E levels were repeatedly associated with better cognitive performance. Due to its antioxidant properties, the ability of vitamin E to prevent or delay cognitive decline has been tested in clinical trials in both ageing population and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. The difficulty in performing precise and uniform human studies is mostly responsible for the inconsistent outcomes reported in the literature. Therefore, the benefit of vitamin E as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders is still under debate. In this review, we focus on those studies that mostly have contributed to clarifying the exclusive function of vitamin E in relation to brain ageing and AD.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Nutrients 2014, 6, 5453-5472; doi:10.3390/nu6125453
ISSN 2072-6643
Effects of Vitamin E on Cognitive Performance during Ageing
and in Alzheimer’s Disease
Giorgio La Fata *, Peter Weber and M. Hasan Mohajeri
DSM Nutritional Products Ltd., R & D Human Nutrition and Health, P.O. Box 2676,
CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland; E-Mails: (P.W.); (M.H.M.)
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail:;
Tel.: +41-61-815-81-28.
Received: 13 October 2014; in revised form: 10 November 2014 / Accepted: 19 November 2014 /
Published: 28 November 2014
Abstract: Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that primarily protects cells from damage
associated with oxidative stress caused by free radicals. The brain is highly susceptible to
oxidative stress, which increases during ageing and is considered a major contributor to
neurodegeneration. High plasma vitamin E levels were repeatedly associated with better
cognitive performance. Due to its antioxidant properties, the ability of vitamin E to prevent
or delay cognitive decline has been tested in clinical trials in both ageing population and
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. The difficulty in performing precise and uniform human
studies is mostly responsible for the inconsistent outcomes reported in the literature.
Therefore, the benefit of vitamin E as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders is still
under debate. In this review, we focus on those studies that mostly have contributed to
clarifying the exclusive function of vitamin E in relation to brain ageing and AD.
Keywords: α-tocopherol; antioxidant; oxidative stress; brain ageing; AD
1. Introduction
Free radicals are molecules containing a reactive unpaired electron. In biological models, the majority
of free radicals contain an atom of oxygen and, therefore, are called reactive oxygen species (ROS) [1].
ROS are mainly produced in mitochondria and represent important regulators of cell signaling and cell
cycle progression [2]. At high concentrations, however, ROS are detrimental and responsible for the
Nutrients 2014, 6 5454
biological damage that compromises cellular functions [3]. In 1956, Harman postulated the free radical
theory of ageing [4], whereby ageing is considered a progressive, inevitable process partially related to
the accumulation of oxidative damage in biomolecules [1]. The original view of Harman, even if
revolutionary for that time, was probably too simplistic in that ROS may not just function
stochastically [5]. There is now evidence indicating that ROS also function as specific signaling
molecules, and the increased protein oxidative damage during the aging process may be a targeted, rather
than a stochastic phenomenon [5,6]. Although cellular damage is still widely considered the general
cause of ageing [7–10], nine candidate hallmarks have been recently proposed to contribute most to the
aging process [10]. In the central nervous system (CNS), this molecular damage is also postulated to be
responsible for neurodegeneration and, consequentially, for the onset of pathological conditions typical
of old age, such as AD and dementia [1].
AD is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a functional decline in
memory and other cognitive capabilities [11,12]. AD prevalence is age dependent, and it is the most
common form of dementia, accounting for 60%–80% of dementia cases [11]. While the numbers of
deaths due to HIV, stroke and heart disease have dropped consistently in the last decade (Figure 1), the
corresponding incidence of AD has increased dramatically [13]. Medical estimations performed in 2008
discovered that people with AD and dementia cost 19-times more to the society when compared with
age-matched people without dementia [11]. In the U.S. alone, costs associated with AD were estimated
to be around $203 billion in 2013 [11]. Moreover, as world population is ageing, incidence is increasing.
In 2005, the worldwide incidence of dementia was approximately 24 million, and 4.6 million new cases
were estimated to be diagnosed every year. By 2050, the global prevalence of dementia cases is predicted
to quadruple [14].
Considering that AD and related dementia are caused by irreversible neuronal damage, current
available treatments are inadequate [13]. It is, however, conceivable that preventing or delaying
AD-related pathological conditions represents the most valid alternative to treatment. For instance,
delaying the onset of the AD clinical phase by just one year can reduce disease prevalence by 25% [15]
with enormous positive economic and social impacts for society.
The prevention of the cognitive decline associated with AD and dementia can be influenced by a
number of factors, including nutrition [12,13]. Current epidemiological data highlight the beneficial
functions of specific micronutrients (in particular vitamins) to ease these debilitating pathologies [13,15].
Recent studies underpin the positive role of nutrition in preventing AD-related disabilities. It was
demonstrated that diet supplementation with vitamins B and E positively affects the pathological
hallmarks observed in patients with mild and moderate AD, including a delay in cognitive decline [16,17].
In addition, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in adults with age-related cognitive decline
was shown to improve cognitive health [18]. Similar results were also observed in another study, where
higher dietary intake of omega-3 (ω-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) was associated with lower
plasma levels of amyloid-beta42 (Aβ42), a profile associated with reduced risk of AD incidence and
slower cognitive decline [19].
Vitamin E includes a group of eight structurally-related, lipid-soluble, chain-breaking antioxidants:
four tocopherols and four tocotrienols: α (alpha), β (beta), γ (gamma) and δ (delta). α-Tocopherol is the
most abundant and bioavailable antioxidant form of vitamin E in human tissues [20,21]. A dietary
antioxidant is a substance in food that significantly decreases the adverse effects of reactive species,
Nutrients 2014, 6 5455
such as reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, on normal physiological function in humans [22]. These
antioxidants can convert free radicals into less reactive compounds and, therefore, protect cellular
components that are vital for the correct functioning and survival of complex systems [23].
The importance of vitamin E in the CNS [24,25] was already evident at the beginning of the 20th
century when Evans and Burr described paralytic offspring of rats deprived of dietary vitamin E [26].
Several other reports followed, linking vitamin E deficiency with pathologies affecting the motor activity
of humans whose symptoms could be reverted by vitamin E supplementation [27–29]. Ataxia with
vitamin E deficiency (AVED) is an autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia in humans caused by mutations
in the α-tocopherol transfer protein, leading to low levels of serum vitamin E [30–32]. Treatment of
AVED patients with vitamin E showed clinical improvements, especially in early stages of the
disease [33,34]. The neurological importance of vitamin E is also underlined by its association with other
brain disorders. Low levels of α-tocopherol in the brain were shown in carriers of the APOE epsilon4
(ɛ4) variant (a significant risk factor for AD) [35], as well as in patients with AD and mild cognitive
impairment (MCI) [36–38]. Moreover, a reduced risk of developing AD was observed in subjects with
high plasma levels of vitamin E [39] and following vitamin E intake [40,41]. The scope of this work is
to provide an overview of the clinical and epidemiological studies performed to assess the effects of
vitamin E on cognitive performance during ageing and in pathological conditions, such as AD.
Figure 1. Changes in disease-related deaths (%). Numbers of deaths caused by HIV, stroke
and heart disease-declined substantially between 2000 and 2008. Within the same time
period, AD-related deaths increased more than 65%. Adapted from [42].
2. Vitamin E and Brain Function
2.1. Epidemiological Evidence
The importance of adequate nutrition in support of healthy brain function was already reported in the
1980s, when direct links between nutritional status and cognitive performances were established. In a
cohort of 260 healthy people (aged > 60 years), a positive link between cognitive performance and higher
nutrient concentrations (folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C and others) in blood plasma was described [43].
The same positive effect was also reported years later in another study: 304 individuals were examined
Alzheimer’s disease
Heart disease
Nutrients 2014, 6 5456
for their cognitive performance in relation to nutrient content and after dietary supplementation with
specific vitamins (including vitamin C, E and thiamine) [44]. Both studies reported modest, but
significant, improvements in cognitive performance of individuals with a satisfactory nutritional status.
Of note, the authors claimed that the associations were modest, probably because both studies enrolled
healthy people with no nutrient insufficiencies [44].
The aforementioned observations were confirmed by another study examining memory performance
in 442 healthy individuals (age > 65 years) [45]. Higher plasma concentrations of ascorbic acid and
beta-carotene were, in this case, associated with improved memory performance [45]. Two years later,
a survey involving a multiethnic population in the United States reported that memory performances
were linked to vitamin E and not to vitamin C and beta-carotene. Precisely, poor memory performance
was consistently evident when low plasma levels of vitamin E were measured (serum vitamin E levels
normalized per unit of cholesterol) [46]. Further evidence emphasizing the positive role of vitamin E in
brain function is the finding that high levels of α-tocopherol (and vitamin A) are found in plasma of
cognitively normal centenarians [47], possibly contributing to the protection against oxidative stress and,
thereby, to their cognitive function. Finally, another convincing positive association between vitamin E
status (measured as the serum α-tocopherol concentrations and α-tocopherol/cholesterol ratio) and
cognitive function in an aging population was found in a study of 34 men and 84 women (aged between
65 and 91 years) who were free of significant cognitive impairments. Subjects with vitamin E intakes
less than 50% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) were shown to perform cognitively worse than
those with a higher intake level [48].
These observations are in line with the results of another report [49] that linked consumption of
vitamin C and E supplements with better cognitive performances. Grodstein and collaborators analyzed
the cognitive performances of a very large number of participants (approximately 15 thousand women
aged 70–79 years) after vitamin E and C supplement intake for approximately 20 years. The results
showed that users of vitamin E and C supplements have better cognitive performances than non-users
and that in longest term users of these supplements (>10 years), the effect of consuming vitamin E and
C was cognitively equivalent to being 1.5 years younger. Importantly, while the intake of vitamin E and
C alone showed little evidence of improving the cognitive capacities of the users, their combination was
necessary to obtain significant effects [49]. Clear benefits were also described when comparing women
with low dietary intake of α-tocopherol to those with high intake. The difference, in this case, was
equivalent to being cognitively two years younger [49].
The Cache County Study is a prospective study of elderly residents of Cache County (Utah, USA).
Previous data analyses from this study revealed a reduced AD risk for participants taking antioxidant
vitamin supplements or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as a reduced cognitive
decline in individuals eating food rich in antioxidants [50]. Because the possible synergic effect of
antioxidants and NSAIDs was not investigated, Fotuhi and collaborators analyzed the available data to
assess the potential combined effects of vitamins E or C and NSAIDs on cognitive decline [50].
Participants of this study were considered users of vitamin E if they reported to take it at a minimum of
four times a week and for a month or longer. Users were also considered those taking, with a similar
frequency, multivitamin preparations containing at least 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E. In
total, data from 3376 participants were included in this analysis, and cognitive decline was assessed by
the Modified Mini-Mental State examination evaluated up to three times over an eight-year period [50]. At
Nutrients 2014, 6 5457
baseline, users of vitamin E (or C) performed better than non-users, but a positive association with better
cognitive performance was observed only after combined use of vitamins E and C and NSAIDs [50].
Both epidemiological and experimental studies have demonstrated that a diet rich in fruit and
vegetables has a beneficial effect on cognitive function [51]. These food groups are rich in antioxidants
that act as free radical scavengers that protect the brain from neuronal damage [51]. The Supplementation
en Vitamines et Mineraux Antioxydants 2 (SU.VI.MAX2) is an observational study conducted to
investigate the effect of nutrition (especially fruit and vegetables) on the quality of aging [51]. In the analysis,
2533 healthy participants of the SU.VI.MAX2 study were included to investigate the possible link
between the intake of specific nutrients (among them, vitamin E) from food (fruit and vegetables, in
particular) and ageing (nutrients from supplementation were excluded) [51]. Participants were invited to
provide a 24-h dietary record every two months (six times/year) for a total period of two years that was
successively analyzed in combination with the cognitive assessments already available in the
SU.VI.MAX2 study. Interestingly, the nutrient intake model provided by the authors, showed that
vitamin E was positively associated with better cognitive performance [51], as evaluated by verbal
memory and executive function scores [51].
Morris and colleagues monitored the cognitive changes of 2889 healthy people (aged 65 to
102 years) over a period of three years in the presence of high and low antioxidant consumption [52].
Four different cognitive tests revealed a reduced cognitive decline per year in individuals with higher
vitamin E intake (users) (obtained by diet and from supplements) when compared to non-users (low
vitamin E intake) [52]. This difference was lost once the non-users started to consume food with high
vitamin E levels [52]. Conversely, few effects were observed when carotene, vitamins C and A were
analyzed [52]. In a similar study, vitamin E intake was associated with improved cognitive performance
and with a decreased risk of developing AD [41,53].
The Women’s Health Study (WHS) is a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of
vitamin E supplementation with a 10-year duration [54]. Originally, this study was designed to monitor
the preventive effects of vitamin E and aspirin on cardiovascular diseases and cancer [54]. In 1998
(5.6 years after randomization), a sub-study was started to evaluate the cognitive performance of 6,377
elderly healthy women randomized to receive vitamin E -tocopherol acetate) 600 IU/every other day
with a follow-up period of four years. The evaluation of the cognitive performance was conducted by
telephone interviews through an adaptation of the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). The authors
reported that compared to the placebo group (n = 3,193), the vitamin E group (n = 3184) did not have a
lower risk of substantial cognitive decline [54]. Of note, this study showed fewer adverse cognitive
changes when the vitamin E group was compared to the placebo group with dietary intake of vitamin E
below the median of 6.1 mg/day [54]. Additional favorable effects were also observed, including
parameters related to exercise and diabetes measures [54].
Taken together, these epidemiological studies demonstrate that consumption of specific
micronutrients, including vitamin E, is linked to improved cognitive performance in humans. Therefore,
vitamin E was examined in AD, a pathological condition characterized by cognitive decline.
To monitor the preventive function that specific micronutrients may have on the AD onset,
5395 healthy individuals (mean age, 55 years) were monitored for a period of six years. Out of 5395,
197 participants developed dementia, of whom, 146 had AD [55]. The authors described a lower risk of
Nutrients 2014, 6 5458
developing AD in individuals consuming food with a high content of vitamin E and C
(vitamin E >15 mg/day) [55].
The preventive effect of vitamin E with respect to developing AD symptoms was demonstrated in a
study of 232 dementia-free subjects aged 80+ years, derived from the Kungsholmen Project [39].
Subjects with high plasma levels of total tocopherols, total tocotrienols or total vitamin E had a reduced
risk of developing AD in comparison to persons with lower levels [39]. Similar observations were also
reported two years later [56]. A study population derived from the AddNeuroMed cohort, one of the
largest cohorts in Europe to identify biomarkers for AD, was used to evaluate the relationship between
MCI and AD and the plasma contents of all vitamin E forms in individuals with MCI and AD
(521 subjects) [56]. The authors identified an association between low plasma tocopherol and tocotrienol
levels and increased odds of MCI and AD [56].
There is ample reason to suspect that ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (vCSF) represents a more
adequate compartment to study the brain status than circulating blood [57]. For this reason, Hensley and
collaborators measured the vitamin E levels (α and γ tocopherol) in the vCSF of post-mortem AD
patients [57]. In agreement with other studies that found lower tocopherol plasma levels among AD
patients [58–60], the authors found that higher concentrations of vCSF α-tocopherol were associated
with better performance in perceptual speed, as well as in lower neuritic plaque density [57]. Conversely,
the global cognitive scores did not change in relation to α-tocopherol concentrations [57]. The fact that
vCSF and plasma vitamin E level are both reduced in AD patients provides strong evidence of the
importance of this vitamin in supporting brain function in healthy subjects.
Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPSE) is a ten-year prospective study with the aim of
describing predictors of mortality and risk factors for chronic diseases and loss of functioning [61]. A
sub-group of subjects already enrolled in the EPSE was monitored for ten years, and the probability of
developing dementia or AD in relation to specific parameters, including vitamin use, was calculated.
Six hundred sixteen persons were included in this secondary analysis, of whom 141 developed
dementia [61]. In general, the authors declared that consumption of high doses of vitamin E (and C) was
not associated with a delayed development of dementia or AD [61]. Several reasons may have led to this
null result. Of note, in this case, the demented population was quite heterogeneous, including 93 people
with AD, 30 with vascular dementia (VaD) and 18 with general dementia. Unfortunately, no information
regarding the duration and the dose of vitamin E use was available. Finally, only a very small proportion
(less than 10%) of the subjects included in this study used these antioxidants.
In addition, consumption of vitamin E or C alone was associated with improved cognitive
performance also in another study [62]. It is noteworthy that, even if a significant protective effect for
general dementia was demonstrated in men that consumed vitamin E and C supplements together [62],
no beneficial effects were detected when the dementia was associated with AD [62]. Unfortunately, an
important limitation of this study, with no positive outcome, is the lack of information about dosage and
the duration of the supplementation, as well as other confounding factors, such as information about the
health status of the participants. By and large, the results reported from these observational studies
support a beneficial effect of vitamin E in AD patients.
Nutrients 2014, 6 5459
2.2. Intervention Studies
The cognitive impairments and the behavioral symptoms that characterize AD are associated with a
loss of cholinergic neurons in the brain and increased oxidative stress [17]. Oxidative stress increases
during ageing and represents one possible cause for the onset and progression of AD [1]. For this reason,
several strategies for AD treatment have focused on enhancing cholinergic neuronal function or
promoting neuroprotective effects through the administration of specific antioxidants [17]. Due to the
antioxidant properties of vitamin E and considering the promising results obtained from animal
studies [63,64] in preventing neuronal death and delaying ageing, the use of vitamin E to treat patients with
AD and other forms of dementia typical of old age has been examined in several clinical trials (Table 1).
Table 1. Overview of clinical trials supporting vitamin E supplementation in individuals with AD.
Study details
Primary outcomes
Main results
Side effect due to vitamin E
Secondary outcomes
Main results Reference
Alzheimer’s Disease
Cooperative Study
2000 IU/day
(1000 IU/twice a
Duration: 2 years
Time to the occurrence of any of
the following end points:
death; institutionalization; loss of
ability to perform at least two of
the three basic activities of daily
living: eating, grooming, using
the toilet; severe dementia
Significant delay in the
institutionalization time for the
α-tocopherol group when
compared with placebo
(p = 0.003)
No significant side effects were
found between groups after
adjustments for multiple
Measurement of:
cognition; function;
behavior; presence or
absence of other
extrapyramidal signs
beneficial effects
following α-tocopherol
treatment (Blessed
Dementia Scale,
p = 0.004)
Less supervision was
necessary for the patients
treated with α-tocopherol
(p = 0.021)
No. of participants:
Total study: 341
Placebo n = 84
α-tocopherol n = 85
Pathological stage:
AD patients
(moderate severity)
Average age:
73 years
Alzheimer’s Disease
Cooperative Study
1000 IU/day
(first 6 weeks)
2000 IU/day
(remaining time)
Duration: 3 years
Time to the development of
possible or probable AD (starting
from MCI)
No significant differences in the
probability of progression from
MCI to AD when the vitamin E
group is compared to placebo
(p = 0.91)
Treatment with vitamin E did not
produce any unexpected side
Measured parameters:
(Mini Mental State
Examination ) MMSE;
Alzheimer’s Disease
Assessment Scale,
cognitive subscale
(ADAS-cog); (global
Clinical Dementia
Rating) global CDR;
(Alzheimer’s Disease
Study-Activities of Daily
Living) ADCS-ADL
No significant differences
were observed between
vitamin E and placebo
No. of participants:
Total study: 769
Placebo n = 259
Vitamin E n = 257
Pathological stage:
Mild Cognitive
Impairment (MCI)
Average age:
72 years
Nutrients 2014, 6 5460
Table 1. Cont.
800 IU/day
6 months
Glutathione oxidation
Patients with moderate (n = 26)
and severe (n = 6) dementia have
a higher concentration of basal
oxidized glutathione (GSSG)
level when compared to healthy
controls (n = 18) (p < 0.05)
Higher GSSG/reduced
glutathione (GSH) ratio for
severe (n = 6) demented patients
when compared to moderated
demented patients (n = 26)
(p < 0.05)
No side effects mentioned in this
Measurement of:
cognition; function;
behavior; presence or
absence of other
extrapyramidal signs
beneficial effects
following α-tocopherol
treatment (Blessed
Dementia Scale,
p = 0.004)
Less supervision was
necessary for the patients
treated with α-tocopherol
(p = 0.021)
No. of participants:
33 AD patients
Healthy controls
n = 18
AD placebo n = 14
AD vitamin E n =
Pathological stage:
25 with mild, 26
with moderate and 6
with severe
Trial of Vitamin E
and Memantine in
Alzheimer’s Disease
2000 IU/day
(1000 IU/twice
a day)
Duration: from 6
months to 4 years
Activities of daily living
Over the mean follow-up time of
2.27 years, participants receiving
α-tocopherol had significantly
slower decline than those
receiving placebo (ADCS-ADL,
p = 0.03)
Reduced annual rate of decline in
ADLs by 19% when the
α-tocopherol group is compared
to placebo
No vitamin E specific adverse
effect observed
Measured parameters:
Inventory (NPI);
Caregiver Activity
Survey (CAS);
Dependence Scale
Favorable effect of
α-tocopherol considering
ADAs-cog and CAS (not
statistically significant
after adjustments for
multiple comparisons)
No. of participants:
Total study: 613 AD
α-tocopherol n =
Placebo n = 140
Pathological stage:
Mild to moderate
Average age:
79 years
One of the first randomized controlled trials (RCTs) performed to study the effects of vitamin E on
AD pathology treated 341 AD patients (moderate severity) with selegiline and vitamin E
(dl-α-tocopherol (Hoffmann-LaRoche, Nutley, NJ, USA) 1000 IU/twice per day) for two years [65].
After vitamin E supplementation (n = 85), there was a significant delay in the deterioration of daily life
activities, as well as a reduced need for care [65]. The level of α-tocopherol was monitored by measuring
serum tocopherol concentrations. Tests for α-tocopherol were considered positive if serum tocopherol
levels were 2.0 mg per deciliter (46 µmol per liter) or higher in 75% of the blood samples obtained from
a given patient [65]. No improvements of the cognitive test scores were observed in this study, possibly
due to the relatively advanced severity of AD in this population at the onset of supplementation. This
last point highlights the importance of the “brain status” of the to-be-treated population. The clinical
severity of AD may indeed influence the success probability of the intervention, the progression of the
disease and the associated cognitive impairments.
Nutrients 2014, 6 5461
The positive results associated with vitamin E supplementation in patients with severe AD [65]
prompted investigating if similar or even more beneficial effects could also be obtained in early stages
of AD. MCI represents a transitional state that progresses to AD [66]. Previous studies have demonstrated
that 10%–15% of people with mild cognitive impairment develop AD within one year [66]. This number
reduces to a rate of 1%–2% among normal elderly people [66]. Petersen and collaborators enrolled
769 subjects (average age 72 years) with amnestic MCI from the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative
Study [66]. A three-year study involving vitamin E supplementation of 2000 IU/day was conducted.
This study failed to demonstrate any significant difference in the probability of progression from MCI
to AD after vitamin E supplementation [66]. Of the 769 participants, 214 had progression to dementia,
among which 212 were classified as having possible or probable AD with an overall rate of progression
of 16% [66]. No unexpected side effects were observed following vitamin E treatment [66].
Twenty-four of the recruiting sites involved in the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study [66] also
decided to participate in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sub-study [68], as MRI measurements
may be a useful diagnostic tool to identify the brain atrophy that succeeds a pathological condition.
Atrophy rates are greater in both AD and MCI subjects, and in addition, it was shown that MCI subjects
with greater hippocampal atrophy rates were more likely to convert to AD [68]. The purpose of this
study was to evaluate the effects of vitamin E treatment on brain atrophy using MRI. Brain atrophy rates
were determined by annual percentage change. One hundred thirty one subjects were included, and the
size of their hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, whole brain and ventricular volumes were analyzed [68].
A trend, which did not reach significance, towards lower atrophy rates was observed in those groups
treated with vitamin E and donepezil [68]. In agreement with published data, the authors found a greater
rate of brain atrophy in those patients who converted to AD from MCI, as well as in APOE ɛ4 carriers
whose conversion rate to AD was more likely to occur [68].
The possibility that vitamin E could have beneficial effects on the cognitive properties of AD patients
was investigated mechanistically [67]. A reliable indicator of vitamin E activity measured in this study
was the blood oxidized glutathione level. Fifty seven AD patients (mild, moderate and severe dementia)
were recruited, and 33 completed the study. Interestingly, it was found that people treated with vitamin
E (800 IU/day for six months) were able to maintain their cognitive status (and even performed slightly
better) over the study period only if lower blood oxidized glutathione levels were detected. Conversely,
when vitamin E was not effective as an antioxidant, the authors observed a worsening of the cognitive
performances [67]. This study highlights the anti-oxidative properties of vitamin E as the mechanism of
action and as a therapeutic approach against AD pathology [67].
The Trial of Vitamin E and Memantine in Alzheimer’s Disease (TEAM-AD) is an RCT, designed to
assess the efficacy of α-tocopherol, memantine or their combination in delaying clinical progression of
AD in patients taking an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor [17]. This study started in 2007, was completed
in 2012 and included 613 participants (mainly men, mean age of around 79 years). One hundred fifty
two randomized patients with mild to moderate AD (assessed by MMSE) were supplemented with
vitamin E (dl-α-tocopherol acetate) and compared to 152 randomized placebo-treated patients. The
duration of the supplementation ranged from six months to four years, making this study one of the
largest and longest treatment trials in patients with mild to moderate AD [17]. The authors found that
2000 IU/day of α-tocopherol significantly delayed the clinical progression of AD symptoms and
decreased the caregiver burden associated with it [17], confirming data generated in another multicenter
Nutrients 2014, 6 5462
study that treated severe AD patients with α-tocopherol [65]. Serum concentration of vitamin E at
baseline was measured prior to randomization and in annual assessments. Cut points of 1.3-fold or
greater increases in α-tocopherol were associated with a reasonable level of medication adherence [17].
In addition, favorable effects (but not statistically significant) were associated with α-tocopherol
treatment when memory and language properties were considered, as well as the time necessary for the
caregivers to assist the patients. Moreover, the authors found no safety concerns associated with 2000
IU/day vitamin E supplementation when compared to the control group [17].
3. Possible Mechanisms beyond the Antioxidant Function
The cognitive decline observed during ageing and in AD is associated with increased oxidative
stress [1], which may be partially responsible for the time-dependent accumulation of cellular
damage [10], which ultimately leads to neuronal death and neurodegenerative disorders. Being a potent
antioxidant vitamin and essential to life, vitamin E has stimulated researchers to investigate how it affects
the cognitive decline that is observed in pathological conditions and during normal ageing. However,
the biological relevance of vitamin E goes beyond antioxidant activity. Recently, new functions were
associated with vitamin E, including its role in signaling, membrane fluidity and gene regulation.
Vitamin E regulates the activity of multiple signal transduction enzymes whose activities
consequentially affect gene expression [23]. For example, α-tocopherol inhibits the activation of the
protein kinase C (PKC) [69,70] by preventing its phosphorylation [71], as well as its localization to the
membrane [72]. Moreover α-tocopherol was shown to enhance the protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A)
activity, an enzyme that is implicated in AD-pathophysiology (for a review, see [73]). Other enzymatic
activities are also modified by vitamin E, with consequential effects on cell proliferation [74]
inflammation [75] and cellular adhesion [76] (for comprehensive reviews, see [23,69]). Microarray data
from rodent studies [69] showed that vitamin E also regulates the expression of specific genes related to
oxidative stress, muscles structure, cholesterol metabolism, amongst others (see [69] and the references
therein for details).
Vitamin E deprivation experiments performed in rats demonstrated that in the hippocampus, the
expression of a number of genes linked to the onset and progression of AD was vitamin E responsive [77].
The identified genes were important regulators of hormone metabolism, apoptosis, growth factors,
neurotransmission and amyloid-beta metabolism [77]. Of note, the hippocampus of rats deficient in
vitamin E showed a decreased expression of the APP binding protein 1 [77], whose activity is to bind
and stabilize APP, the precursor of the Aβ fragments, which are associated with AD.
Additionally, animal experiments showed that low α-tocopherol levels in the brain induce
downregulation of genes involved in myelination and synaptogenesis, neuronal vesicle transport and in
glial functions [78]. These data strongly support the hypothesis that optimal coverage of the organism
with vitamin E is an important determinant of healthy brain functions throughout life.
A recent study has also described a protective role for vitamin E against AD pathology [79].
Combined in vitro and in vivo experiments confirmed a mechanism by which vitamin E protects against
the formation of the major AD biomarker, hyper-phosphorylated tau. Vitamin E in this case was able to
prevent the activation of p38MAPK, whose activity is essential for phosphorylation of neuronal tau
molecules [79].
Nutrients 2014, 6 5463
The beneficial effect of vitamin E is also evident in models of SmithLemliOpitz Syndrome
(SLOS) [80]. SLOS, caused by mutations in the gene encoding the last enzyme in cholesterol
biosynthesis, 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) reductase, is characterized by phenotypic malformations,
as well as cognitive impairments and autistic-like behaviors [80]. The authors reported that vitamin E
supplementation was sufficient to inhibit the peroxidation of 7-dehydrocholesterol (a hallmark of SLOS)
and that feeding a vitamin E-enriched diet to pregnant females led to a decrease in oxysterol formation
in brain and liver tissues of the newborn animals in this model.
Despite the great importance of these studies in completing the knowledge about vitamin E functions,
they are mainly obtained in vitro or in vivo using animal models mimicking the human vitamin E
deficiencies. In the literature, there are very few data reporting non-oxidative functions of vitamin E in
human studies and brain, in particular.
4. Discussion
The increased oxidative stress that occurs during ageing represents a possible cause of AD onset and
progression [46,81–83]. Therefore, use of the potent antioxidant, vitamin E, has been investigated as a
treatment to delay the onset or the progression of this pathology, as well as to ameliorate the cognitive
decline naturally occurring during ageing.
Despite the high number of studies performed to assess the antioxidant effects in pathological
conditions and during ageing, only a few tested exclusively the vitamin E effects in humans. Of all the
studies cited in this review, only four were designed to test the specific effect of vitamin E in treating,
preventing or delaying AD [17,65–67] . Therefore, only these works will be discussed further.
A recent large study demonstrated that vitamin E supplementation significantly delayed the clinical
progression of AD symptoms in patients with mild and moderate AD [17]. These data corroborated older
results [65], where a reduced functional decline in patients with moderately severe AD was observed
following vitamin E supplementation [65]. These studies suggest that supplementation of vitamin E
(2000 IU/day) may be sufficient to delay the functional decline observed in AD pathology at different
stages of its progression.
Of note, in both cases, no significant differences in cognitive performance were observed when the
placebo group was compared to the vitamin E supplemented group, although a trend for the beneficial
effects of vitamin E was observed [17]. A possible explanation provided by the authors relates to the
stage of the pathology. The AD pathology may have been too advanced in the enrolled patients, such
that no differences were appreciated when cognitive performance was measured. Indeed, the authors
conclude that perhaps functional and occupational measures of cognitive capacity are better indicators
of disease progression than psychometric measures [65]. Additionally, the effects of vitamin E on
cognitive performance may have been masked by acetylcholine esterase inhibitor therapy, the standard
therapy for patients in these trials, or by the presence of varying confounding factors, such as other
diseases. Indeed, in another study [54], it was observed that vitamin E treatment was (cognitively)
beneficial among women without diabetes, but not among women with diabetes [54]. Moreover, other
important information, such as dose and duration of supplementation, as well as the number of
participants using the supplements, is necessary to evaluate a specific vitamin E effect [61].
Nutrients 2014, 6 5464
The phase that precedes the clinical AD stage is characterized by the presence of MCI. In 2005, a
study was performed to monitor the effect of vitamin E supplementation during early stages of
AD [66]. The authors claimed that no beneficial effects were associated with vitamin E administration
to patients with MCI [66]. In particular, the probability of progressing from MCI to AD after vitamin E
supplementation was not affected. Therefore, the authors concluded that vitamin E supplementation did
not delay the progression of the AD pathology at early stages [66].
A possible reason to justify such inconsistencies is given by the difficulty to perform precise and
uniform studies. AD is a multi-faceted, progressive neurodegenerative disorder with different levels of
severity. In the studies by Dysken et al. [17] and Sano et al. [65], the criteria to recruit the participants
were the presence of possible or probable AD (mild and moderate severity), while in the study by
Petersen et al., the subjects enrolled had amnestic mild cognitive impairment [66]. In all of the above
cases, 2000 IU/day of vitamin E were administered to each participant (for approximately three years),
but in a later study [66], the initial administered dose was 1000 IU/day and, later (six weeks after the
beginning of the study), 1000 IU twice daily [66]. Moreover, subjects enrolled by Dysken and
collaborators were under medication (taking an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI) [17]), while no
medications were reported by Sano et al. [65] or by Petersen et al. [66]. Finally, Dysken et al. [17] and
Sano et al. [65] measured the capacity to carry out daily life activities, while in the other study, the
primary outcome was the probability of progressing from MCI to AD [66]. In summary, varying
outcome measures are tested in different studies, which may not be directly comparable to each other.
Beneficial effects (measured by the absence of cognitive decline over time) following vitamin E
supplementation were observed in another AD cohort [67]. Importantly, in this case, the cognitive
performance of the participants was constant over time (and even slightly improved) only when the
vitamin E antioxidant activity was confirmed to be effective. Conversely, deleterious effects
(pronounced loss of cognitive abilities) were present when no enhanced antioxidant levels were
detected [67]. To explain the lack of effect in the non-responders, the authors speculated about a possible
pro-oxidant activity of vitamin E [67]. Another possible explanation could be that the anti-oxidant
defense of non-responders does not utilize vitamin E as well as the responders. In this case, the
measurement of vitamin E levels in the plasma of the participants would have clarified this point. This
explanation and the positive effects of vitamin E supplementations in the responders strongly lend
support to the proposal that vitamin E supplementation would be important in limiting the cognitive loss
observed in AD patients.
As mentioned before, the difficulty in performing precise and uniform studies accounts for the
varying results. For example, in the study by Lloret et al. [67], only 57 AD patients were studied, of
which 25 were diagnosed with mild, 26 with moderate and six with severe dementia. Vitamin E
supplementation included 800 IU/day, as opposed to 2000 IU/day in the other studies. The
supplementation period was six months, while in other studies, supplements were given for
approximately two to three years. Finally, the participants enrolled in the study performed by Lloret
et al. [67] were taking standard anti-cholinesterase drugs, similar to [17], but not in [66] and
in [65]. Last, but not least, the primary and secondary measures of these studies were different. All of
these factors may result in varying outcomes and may mask the positive effects of supplementation.
An important parameter that can influence the outcomes of such studies relates to the form of
administered vitamin E. In studies by Dysken et al. [17] and Sano et al. [65], the same form of vitamin E (dl-
Nutrients 2014, 6 5465
α-tocopherol) was used, and in both cases, the α-tocopherol status of the subjects was measured in the
serum. This uniformity contributes to an easy comparison of the two studies. This information, however,
was not reported in the other reports reviewed, even when the measurement of the vitamin E levels
would have been useful for a comprehensive understanding of the proposed results.
Another factor complicating direct comparison of the outcomes of human data is the baseline level
of vitamin E. In Goodwin et al. [43] and La Rue et al. [44], the authors claimed that the observed effects
were modest, because the compared subjects had a similar satisfactory nutritional status, thus a similar
concentration of vitamin E at baseline. In healthy people, this parameter is easily influenced by varying
vitamin E intake by diet, high or low consumption of vitamins, implying that the subjects enrolled in
these studies may have a different oxidative status. This concept becomes even more important when
long-term trials are performed and when they include pathological conditions, such as AD. In
conclusion, even if the micronutrient content at baseline is usually measured prior to interventional
studies, due to its high variability in different populations, it represents another parameter that needs to
be considered when multiple interventional studies are compared.
Several epidemiological studies indicate that vitamin E from food sources is more effective at
preventing age-related neurodegenerative disorders than dietary supplementation [84]. This idea is
supported by the fact that vitamin E from food sources comprises all four tocopherols and four
tocotrienols, whose properties and possible functions are different [85]. Although α-tocopherol is the
most abundant and bioavailable form of vitamin E in human tissues, it was demonstrated that
tocotrienols may be more potent radical scavengers than α-tocopherol under specific experimental
conditions [84,86,87]. Taken together, the differences in the results between RCTs and observational
studies could be due to the varying chemical forms present in the supplements and in food, as well as
their bioavailability. In addition, the combination of nutrients from food, as seen in observational studies,
may have interactive and synergic effects on health. Such beneficial effects may be masked or mitigated
in supplementation trials.
5. Conclusions
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2003 to 2008 show that intakes of
vitamins A, C, D, E, K and folate are low in a significant proportion of the elderly population in the
U.S. [13]. In Germany, vitamin D and folate appear to be the most critical vitamins in people aged 65 to
80 years, followed by vitamin E and C [13].
This review highlights the importance of adequate vitamin E intake in support of healthy brain
function in the elderly.
Most of the epidemiological studies analyzed in this work clearly associate high levels of vitamin E
with improved cognitive performance and reduced risk of developing AD. For this reason, vitamin E use
has been investigated to ameliorate the cognitive decline naturally occurring during ageing and as a
treatment to delay the onset or the progression of AD.
Several RCTs show the beneficial effect of vitamin E supplementation in delaying the functional
decline observed during AD progression. The socioeconomic benefits that could be derived from a delay
in the need for care for these patients are enormous. Unfortunately, other RCT set-ups failed to associate
vitamin E use with a reduced cognitive decline in AD, as well as delayed AD onset. Therefore, more
Nutrients 2014, 6 5466
standardized research is needed to identify a clear effect of vitamin E on cognitive decline observed
during ageing, as well as during AD progression from early to late phases [88].
Importantly, the studies analyzed here confirmed that vitamin E supplementation (even at a dose of
2000 IU/day for an average of two years) is safe and free of specific side effects in the elderly.
In conclusion, the positive effects obtained in the above-cited RCTs, the relative safety of vitamin E
combined with the low cost and the absence of valid alternative treatments for AD, suggest vitamin E as
a nutritional compound to promote healthy brain ageing and to delay AD-related functional decline.
Further research is required to substantiate the emerging and encouraging evidence related to
vitamin E’s effects on brain health.
G. La Fata is supported by the European Marie Curie Ageing Network grant (Marriage).
Author Contributions
All authors contributed to literature search and writing the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
P. Weber and M. Hasan Mohajeri are employed by DSM. There was no conflict of interest in regard
to the content discussed in this article.
1. Mariani, E.; Polidori, M.C.; Cherubini, A.; Mecocci, P. Oxidative stress in brain aging,
neurodegenerative and vascular diseases: an overview. J. Chromatogr. B Analyt. Technol. Biomed.
Life Sci. 2005, 827, 65–75.
2. Zorov, D.B.; Juhaszova, M.; Sollott, S.J. Mitochondrial Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and ROS-
Induced ROS Release. Physiol. Rev. 2014, 94, 909–950.
3. Dai, D.-F.; Chiao, Y.A.; Marcinek, D.J.; Szeto, H.H.; Rabinovitch, P.S. Mitochondrial oxidative
stress in aging and healthspan. Longev. Healthspan 2014, 3, 6, doi:10.1186/2046-2395-3-6.
4. Harman, D. Aging: A theory based on free radical and radiation chemistry. J. Gerontol. 1956, 11,
5. Okusaga, O.O. Accelerated aging in schizophrenia patients: the potential role of oxidative stress.
Aging Dis. 2014, 5, 256–262.
6. Bratic, A.; Larsson, N.G. The role of mitochondria in aging. J. Clin. Investig. 2013, 123,
7. Gems, D.; Partridge, L. Genetics of longevity in model organisms: debates and paradigm shifts.
Annu. Rev. Physiol. 2013, 75, 621–644.
8. Vijg, J.; Campisi, J. Puzzles, promises and a cure for ageing. Nature 2008, 454, 1065–1071.
9. Kirkwood, T.B. Understanding the odd science of aging. Cell 2005, 120, 437–447.
10. Lopez-Otin, C.; Blasco, M.A.; Partridge, L.; Serranoemail, M.; Kroemer, G. The hallmarks of
aging. Cell 2013, 153, 1194–1217.
Nutrients 2014, 6 5467
11. Thies, W.; Bleiler, L.; Alzheimer’s Association. 2013 Alzheimers disease facts and figures.
Alzheimers Dement. 2013, 9, 208–245.
12. Mohajeri, M.H.; Leuba, G. Prevention of age-associated dementia. Brain Res. Bull. 2009, 80,
13. Mohajeri, M.H.; Troesch, B.; Weber, P. Inadequate supply of vitamins and DHA in the
elderly: Implications for brain aging and Alzheimer’s type dementia. Nutrition 2014,
14. Reitz, C.; Mayeux, R. Alzheimer disease: Epidemiology, diagnostic criteria, risk factors and
biomarkers. Biochem. Pharmacol. 2014, 88, 640–651.
15. Gillette-Guyonnet, S.; Secher, M.; Vellas, B. Nutrition and neurodegeneration: Epidemiological
evidence and challenges for future research. Br. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 2013, 75, 738–755.
16. Douaud, G.; Refsum, H.; de Jager, C.A.; Jacoby, R.; Nichols, T.E.; Smitha, S.M.; Smith, A.D.
Preventing Alzheimers disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment. Proc. Natl.
Acad. Sci. USA 2013, 110, 9523–9528.
17. Dysken, M.W.; Sano, M.; Asthana, S.; Vertrees, J.E.; PharmD, B.C.P.P.; Pallaki, M.; Llorente, M.;
Love, S.; Schellenberg, G.D.; McCarten, J.R.; et al. Effect of vitamin E and memantine on
functional decline in Alzheimer disease: The TEAM-AD VA cooperative randomized trial. JAMA
2014, 311, 33–44.
18. Yurko-Mauro, K.; McCarthy, D.; Rom, D.; Nelson, E.B.; Ryan, A.S.; Blackwell, A.; Salem, N., Jr.;
Stedman, M.; MIDAS Investigators. Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in
age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimers Dement. 2010, 6, 456–464.
19. Gu, Y.; Schupf, N.; Cosentino, S.A.; Luchsinger, J.A.; Scarmeas, N. Nutrient intake and plasma
β-amyloid. Neurology 2012, 78, 1832–1840.
20. Joshi, Y.B.; Pratico, D. Vitamin E in aging, dementia, and Alzheimers disease. Biofactors 2012,
38, 90–97.
21. Rigotti, A. Absorption, transport, and tissue delivery of vitamin E. Mol. Aspects Med. 2007, 28,
22. IOM. Dieatary Reference Intake for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids; National
Academy Press: Washington, D.C., USA, 2000.
23. Zingg, J.M. Modulation of signal transduction by vitamin E. Mol. Aspects Med. 2007, 28, 481506.
24. Gohil, K.; Vasu, V.T.; Cross, C.E. Dietary alpha-tocopherol and neuromuscular health: search for
optimal dose and molecular mechanisms continues! Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2010, 54, 693–709.
25. Muller, D.P. Vitamin E and neurological function. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2010, 54, 710–718.
26. Bacharach, A.L. Vitamin-E Therapy in Neuromuscular Disorders. Br. Med. J. 1941, 2, 618–619.
27. Guggenheim, M.A.; Ringel, S.P.; Silverman, A.; Grabert, B.E.; Neville, H.E. Progressive
neuromuscular disease in children with chronic cholestasis and vitamin E deficiency: Clinical and
muscle biopsy findings and treatment with alpha-tocopherol. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1982, 393, 8495.
28. Shapira, Y.; Amit, R.; Rachmilewitz, E. Vitamin E deficiency in Werdnig-Hoffmann disease.
Ann. Neurol. 1981, 10, 266–268.
29. Tomasi, L.G. Reversibility of human myopathy caused by vitamin E deficiency. Neurology 1979,
29, 1182–1186.
Nutrients 2014, 6 5468
30. Cavalier, L.; Ouahchi, K.; Kayden, H.J.; Di Donato, S.; Reutenauer, L.; Mandel, J.-L.; Koenig, M.
Ataxia with isolated vitamin E deficiency: Heterogeneity of mutations and phenotypic variability
in a large number of families. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 1998, 62, 301–310.
31. Gotoda, T.; Arita, M.; Arai, H.; Inoue, K.; Yokota, T.; Fukuo, Y.; Yazaki, Y.; Yamada, N.
Adult-onset spinocerebellar dysfunction caused by a mutation in the gene for the α-tocopherol-
transfer protein. N. Engl. J. Med. 1995, 333, 1313–1318.
32. Ouahchi, K.; Arita, M.; Kayden, H.; Hentati, F.; Hamida, M.B.; Sokol, R.; Arai, H.; Inoue, K.;
Mandel, J.-L.; Koenig, M. Ataxia with isolated vitamin E deficiency is caused by mutations in the
alpha-tocopherol transfer protein. Nat. Genet. 1995, 9, 141–145.
33. Gabsi, S.; Gouider-Khouja, N.; Belal, S.; Fki, M.; Kefi, M.; Turki, I.; Ben Hamida, M.; Kayden, H.;
Mebazaa, R.; Hentati, F. Effect of vitamin E supplementation in patients with ataxia with vitamin E
deficiency. Eur. J. Neurol. 2001, 8, 477–481.
34. Di Donato, I.; Bianchi, S.; Federico, A. Ataxia with vitamin E deficiency: Update of molecular
diagnosis. Neurol. Sci. 2010, 31, 511–515.
35. Huebbe, P.; Lodge, J.K.; Rimbach, G. Implications of apolipoprotein E genotype on inflammation
and vitamin E status. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2010, 54, 623–630.
36. Baldeiras, I.; Santana, I.; Proença, M.T.; Garrucho, M.H.; Pascoal, R.; Rodrigues, A.; Duro, D.;
Oliveira, C.R. Oxidative damage and progression to Alzheimers disease in patients with mild
cognitive impairment. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2010, 21, 1165–1177.
37. Iuliano, L.; Monticolo, R.; Straface, G.; Spoletini, I.; Gianni, W.; Caltagirone, C.; Bossù, P.;
Spalletta, G. Vitamin E and enzymatic/oxidative stress-driven oxysterols in amnestic mild
cognitive impairment subtypes and Alzheimers disease. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2010, 21, 1383–1392.
38. Rinaldi, P.; Polidori, M.C.; Metastasio, A.; Mariani, E.; Mattioli, P.; Cherubini, A.; Catani, M.;
Cecchetti, R.; Senin, U.; Mecocci, P. Plasma antioxidants are similarly depleted in mild cognitive
impairment and in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol. Aging 2003, 24, 915–919.
39. Mangialasche, F.; Kivipelto, M.; Mecocci, P.; Rizzuto, D.; Palmer, K.; Winblad, B.; Fratiglioni, L.
High plasma levels of vitamin E forms and reduced Alzheime’s disease risk in advanced age.
J. Alzheimers Dis. 2010, 20, 1029–1037.
40. Li, F.J.; Shen, L.; Ji, H.F. Dietary intakes of vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene and risk of
Alzheimer’s disease: A meta-analysis. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2012, 31, 253–258.
41. Morris, M.C.; Evans, D.A.; Bienias, J.L.; Tangney, C.C.; Bennett, D.A.; Aggarwal, N.; Wilson, R.S.;
Scherr, P.A. Dietary intake of antioxidant nutrients and the risk of incident Alzheimer disease in a
biracial community study. JAMA 2002, 287, 3230–3237.
42. Alzheimer’s Association Website. Available online: (accessed on 21
November 2014).
43. Goodwin, J.S.; Goodwin, J.M.; Garry, P.J. Association between nutritional status and cognitive
functioning in a healthy elderly population. JAMA 1983, 249, 2917–2921.
44. La Rue, A.; Koehler, K.M.; Wayne, S.J.; Chiulli, S.J.; Haaland, K.Y.; Garry, P.J. Nutritional
status and cognitive functioning in a normally aging sample: a 6-y reassessment. Am. J. Clin. Nutr.
1997, 65, 20–29.
45. Perrig, W.J.; Perrig, P.; Stahelin, H.B. The relation between antioxidants and memory performance
in the old and very old. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 1997, 45, 718–724.
Nutrients 2014, 6 5469
46. Perkins, A.J.; Hendrie, H.C.; Callahan, C.M.; Gao, S.; Unverzagt, F.W.; Xu, Y.; Hall, K.S.;
Hui, S.L. Association of antioxidants with memory in a multiethnic elderly sample using the Third
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am. J. Epidemiol. 1999, 150, 37–44.
47. Klapcinska, B.; Derejczyk, J.; Wieczorowska-Tobis, K.; Sobczak, A.; Sadowska-Krepa, E.;
Danch, A. Antioxidant defense in centenarians (a preliminary study). Acta Biochim. Pol. 2000, 47,
48. Ortega, R.M.; Requejo, A.M.; López-Sobaler, A.M.; Andrés, P.; Navia, B.; Perea, J.M.;
Robles, F. Cognitive function in elderly people is influenced by vitamin E status. J. Nutr. 2002,
132, 2065–2068.
49. Grodstein, F.; Chen, J.; Willett, W.C. High-dose antioxidant supplements and cognitive function
in community-dwelling elderly women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2003, 77, 975–984.
50. Fotuhi, M.; Zandi, P.P.; Hayden, K.M.; Khachaturian, A.S.; Szekely, C.A.; Wengreen, H.; Munger,
R.G.; Norton, M.C.; Tschanz, J.T.; Lyketsos, C.G.; et al. Better cognitive performance in elderly
taking antioxidant vitamins E and C supplements in combination with nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs: the Cache County Study. Alzheimers Dement. 2008, 4, 223–227.
51. Peneau, S.; Galan, P.; Jeandel, C.; Ferry, M.; Andreeva, V.; Hercberg, S.; Kesse-Guyot, E.; the
SU.VI.MAX 2 Research Group. Fruit and vegetable intake and cognitive function in the
SU.VI.MAX 2 prospective study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2011, 94, 1295–1303.
52. Morris, M.C.; Evans, D.A.; Bienias, J.L.; Tangney, C.C.; Wilson, R.S. Vitamin E and cognitive
decline in older persons. Arch. Neurol. 2002, 59, 1125–1132.
53. Morris, M.C.; Evans, D.A.; Tangney, C.C.; Bienias, J.L.; Wilson, R.S.; Aggarwal, N.T.;
Scherr, P.A. Relation of the tocopherol forms to incident Alzheimer disease and to cognitive
change. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2005, 81, 508–514.
54. Kang, J.H.; Cook, N.; Manson, J.; Buring, J.E.; Grodstein, F. A randomized trial of vitamin E
supplementation and cognitive function in women. Arch. Intern. Med. 2006, 166, 2462–2468.
55. Engelhart, M.J.; Geerlings, M.I.; Ruitenberg, A.; van Swieten, J.C.; Hofman, A.; Witteman, J.C.;
Breteler, M.M. Dietary intake of antioxidants and risk of Alzheimer disease. JAMA 2002, 287,
56. Mangialasche, F.; Xu, W.; Kivipelto, M.; Costanzi, E.; Ercolani, S.; Pigliautile, M.; Cecchetti, R.;
Baglioni, M.; Simmons, A.; Soininen, H.; et al. Tocopherols and tocotrienols plasma levels are
associated with cognitive impairment. Neurobiol. Aging 2012, 33, 2282–2290.
57. Hensley, K.; Barnes, L.L.; Christov, A.; Tangney, C.; Honer, W.G.; Schneider, J.A.; Bennett, D.A.;
Morris, M.C. Analysis of postmortem ventricular cerebrospinal fluid from patients with and
without dementia indicates association of vitamin E with neuritic plaques and specific measures
of cognitive performance. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2011, 24, 767–774.
58. Jimenez-Jimenez, F.J.; de Bustos, F.; Jiménez-Jiménez, F.J.; Benito-León, J.; Ortí-Pareja, M.;
Gasallo, T.; Tallón-Barranco, A.; Navarro, J.A.; Arenas, J.; Enríquez-de-Salamanca, R. Cerebrospinal
fluid levels of alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) in Alzheimer’s disease. J. Neural. Transm. 1997, 104,
59. Schippling, S.; Kontush, A.; Arlt, S.; Buhmann, C.; Stürenburg, H.-J.; Mann, U.; Müller-Thomsen,
T.; Beisiegel, U. Increased lipoprotein oxidation in Alzheimers disease. Free Radic. Biol. Med.
2000, 28, 351–360.
Nutrients 2014, 6 5470
60. Tohgi, H.; Abe, T.; Mika, N.; Hamato, F.; Sasaki, K.; Takahashi, S. Concentrations of α-tocopherol
and its quinone derivative in cerebrospinal fluid from patients with vascular dementia of the
Binswanger type and Alzheimer type dementia. Neurosci. Lett. 1994, 174, 73–76.
61. Fillenbaum, G.G.; Kuchibhatla, M.N.; Hanlon, J.T.; Artz, M.B.; Pieper, C.F.; Schmader, K.E.;
Dysken, M.W.; Gray, S.L. Dementia and Alzheimers disease in community-dwelling elders
taking vitamin C and/or vitamin E. Ann. Pharmacother. 2005, 39, 2009–2014.
62. Masaki, K.H.; Losonczy, K.G.; Izmirlian, G.; Foley, D.J.; Ross, G.W.; Petrovitch, H.; Havlik, R.;
White, L.R. Association of vitamin E and C supplement use with cognitive function and dementia
in elderly men. Neurology 2000, 54, 1265–1272.
63. Hara, H.; Kato, H.; Kogure, K. Protective effect of alpha-tocopherol on ischemic neuronal damage
in the gerbil hippocampus. Brain Res. 1990, 510, 335–338.
64. Joseph, J.A.; Shukitt-Hale, B.; Denisova, N.A.; Prior, R.L.; Cao, G.; Martin, A.; Taglialatela, G.;
Bickford, P.C. Long-term dietary strawberry, spinach, or vitamin E supplementation retards the
onset of age-related neuronal signal-transduction and cognitive behavioral deficits. J. Neurosci.
1998, 18, 8047–8055.
65. Sano, M.; Ernesto, C.; Thomas, R.G.; Klauber, M.R.; Schafer, K.; Grundman, M.; Woodbury, P.;
Growdon, J.; Cotman, C.W.; Pfeiffer, E.; et al. A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol,
or both as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. N. Engl. J. Med. 1997, 336, 1216–1222.
66. Petersen, R.C.; Thomas, R.G.; Grundman, M.; Bennett, D.; Doody, R.; Ferris, S.; Galasko, D.;
Jin, S.; Kaye, J.; Levey, A.; et al. Vitamin E and donepezil for the treatment of mild cognitive
impairment. N. Engl. J. Med. 2005, 352, 2379–2388.
67. Lloret, A.; Badía, M.C.; Mora, N.J.; Pallardó, F.V.; Alonso, M.D.; Viña, J. Vitamin E paradox in
Alzheimers disease: It does not prevent loss of cognition and may even be detrimental.
J. Alzheimers Dis. 2009, 17, 143–149.
68. Jack, C.R., Jr.; Petersena, R.C.; Grundmanb, M.; Jinc, S.; Gamstc, A.; Warda, C.P.; Sencakovaa, D.;
Doodyd, R.S.; Thalc, L.J.; Members of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS).
Longitudinal MRI findings from the vitamin E and donepezil treatment study for MCI. Neurobiol.
Aging 2008, 29, 1285–1295.
69. Brigelius-Flohe, R. Vitamin E: The shrew waiting to be tamed. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2009, 46,
70. Mahoney, C.W.; Azzi, A. Vitamin E inhibits protein kinase C activity. Biochem. Biophys. Res.
Commun. 1988, 154, 694–697.
71. Ricciarelli, R.; Tasinato, A.; Clément, S.; Ozer, N.K.; Boscoboinik, D.; Azzi, A. Alpha-Tocopherol
specifically inactivates cellular protein kinase C alpha by changing its phosphorylation state.
Biochem. J. 1998, 334, 243–249.
72. Boscoboinik, D.; Szewczyk, A.; Hensey, C.; Azzi, A. Inhibition of cell proliferation by
alpha-tocopherol. Role of protein kinase C. J. Biol. Chem. 1991, 266, 6188–6194.
73. Martin, L.; Latypova, X.; Wilson, C.M.; Magnaudeix, A.; Perrin, M.L.; Terro, F. Tau protein
phosphatases in Alzheimers disease: The leading role of PP2A. Ageing Res. Rev. 2013, 12, 3949.
74. Azzi, A.; Aratri, E.; Boscoboinik, D.; Clément, S.; Özer, N.K.; Ricciarelli, R.; Spycher, S.
Molecular basis of α-tocopherol control of smooth muscle cell proliferation. Biofactors 1998, 7,
Nutrients 2014, 6 5471
75. Reiter, E.; Jiang, Q.; Christen, S. Anti-inflammatory properties of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol.
Mol. Aspects Med. 2007, 28, 668–691.
76. Naito, Y.; Shimozawab, M.; Kurodab, M.; Nakabeb, N.; Manabeb, H.; Katadab, H.; Kokurac, S.;
Ichikawad, H.; Yoshidaa, N.; Noguchie, N.; et al. Tocotrienols reduce 25-hydroxycholesterol-induced
monocyte-endothelial cell interaction by inhibiting the surface expression of adhesion molecules.
Atherosclerosis 2005, 180, 19–25.
77. Rota, C.; Rimbach, G.; Minihane, A.M.; Stoecklin, E.; Barella, L. Dietary vitamin E modulates
differential gene expression in the rat hippocampus: Potential implications for its neuroprotective
properties. Nutr. Neurosci. 2005, 8, 21–29.
78. Gohil, K.; Schock, B.C.; Chakraborty, A.A.; Terasawa, Y.; Raber, J.; Farese, R.V., Jr.; Packer, L.;
Cross, C.E.; Traber, M.G. Gene expression profile of oxidant stress and neurodegeneration in
transgenic mice deficient in alpha-tocopherol transfer protein. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2003, 35,
79. Giraldo, E.; Lloret, A.; Fuchsberger, T.; Viña, J. Aβ and tau toxicities in Alzheimer’s are linked
via oxidative stress-induced p38 activation: Protective role of vitamin E. Redox Biol. 2014, 2,
80. Korade, Z.; Xu, L.; Harrisonc, F.E.; Ahsena, R.; Harta, S.E.; Folkesc, O.M.; Mirnicsa, K.;
Porterb, N.A. Antioxidant supplementation ameliorates molecular deficits in Smith-Lemli-Opitz
syndrome. Biol. Psychiatry 2014, 75, 215–222.
81. Pratico, D. Oxidative stress hypothesis in Alzheimer’s disease: A reappraisal. Trends Pharmacol.
Sci. 2008, 29, 609–615.
82. Zhao, Y.; Zhao, B. Oxidative stress and the pathogenesis of Alzheimers disease. Oxid. Med. Cell.
Longev. 2013, 2013, 316523; doi:10.1155/2013/316523.
83. Meydani, M. Antioxidants and cognitive function. Nutr. Rev. 2001, 59, S75–S80; discussion
84. Frank, J.; Chin, X.W.D.; Schrader, C.; Eckert, G.P.; Rimbach, G. Do tocotrienols have potential
as neuroprotective dietary factors? Ageing Res. Rev. 2012, 11, 163–180.
85. Podszun, M.; Frank, J. Vitamin E-drug interactions: Molecular basis and clinical relevance.
Nutr. Res. Rev. 2014, 16, 1–17; doi:10.1017/S0954422414000146.
86. Serbinova, E.; Kagan, V.; Han, D.; Packer, L. Free radical recycling and intramembrane mobility
in the antioxidant properties of alpha-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol. Free Radic. Biol. Med.
1991, 10, 263–275.
87. Suzuki, Y.J.; Tsuchiya, M.; Wassall, S.R.; Choo, Y.M.; Govil, G.; Kagan, V.E.; Packer, L.
Structural and dynamic membrane properties of alpha-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol:
implication to the molecular mechanism of their antioxidant potency. Biochemistry 1993, 32,
Nutrients 2014, 6 5472
88. Isaac, M.G.; Quinn, R.; Tabet, N. Vitamin E for Alzheimers disease and mild cognitive impairment.
Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2008, CD002854, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002854.pub2.
© 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license
... It has been proven that taking vitamin E and ascorbic acid supplements with food reduces the prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer's disease [52]. A multicenter study of vitamin E administration in individuals with intermediate Alzheimer's disease found that it delayed disease progression Table1, lowering the risk of institutionalization [53]. In another trial, however, no significant changes in the course of Alzheimer's disease were detected between the vitamin E and placebo groups [54]. ...
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurological illness that causes a person's memory to deteriorate over time, as well as facing difficulties speaking and performing daily tasks. Alzheimer's disease affects around 42 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to quadruple by 2030. A nutraceutical is a bioactive component of human nutrition that is ready to be employed for disease prevention or therapy. The market for nutraceuticals has risen in the recent decade as public awareness of these compounds has grown, as has their utility in the prevention and treatment of a variety of ailments. Antioxidant-rich diets have been found to protect humans from degenerative diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, spices, and legumes, have been shown to play important roles in the prevention and treatment of a wide range of chronic diseases by altering many metabolic pathways. Bioactive agents are extra from the functional food and are nutritional elements found naturally in plants that have the potential to have a biological effect. Now, scientists and nutritionists say that the link between nutrition and disease is a relatively recent discovery. The importance of functional foods in the treatment of chronic and neurodegenerative disorders, with a focus on AD, will be highlighted in this chapter.
... Free radicals have the risk of oxidative damage on the biomolecules. They eventually lead to atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, aging, and other degenerative diseases 9 . However, there are enzymatic (superoxide dismutase, catalase, paraoxonase) and non-enzymatic (melatonin, hemoglobin, ferritin, bilirubin) mechanisms, neutralizing the free radicals in the body 10 . ...
Full-text available
OBJECTIVE: Urtica dioica L. Subsp. dioica is an annual or perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Urticaceae family that has an important place in ethnobotany. This study aimed to investigate the phytochemical content and the inhibition effect on acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which interact with beta-amyloid to promote the deposition of amyloid plaques and paraoxonase (PON1). This plays a role in the regulation of HDL and LDL and an antiatherogenic, and antioxidant capacity of Urtica dioica. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Phytochemical content was determined by the liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), and to assess the enzyme inhibition and antioxidant capacity the spectrophotometer technique was used. The antioxidant capacity of U. dioica extracts (methanol, hexane, and water) was determined by applying 2,2′-azino-bis (3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS•+), 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH•+), ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), and cupric ion reducing antioxidant capacity (CUPRAC) methods. RESULTS: The methanol extract of the U. dioica exhibited significant inhibition on the AChE (IC50= 0.098 ± 0.011 mg/mL). However, methanol and water extracts of the U. dioica did not exhibit the inhibition effect on PON1. The highest activity for ABTS•+ was in the hexane extract (55.97%), and for DPPH•+ was in the methanol extract (62.42%). Compared to other solvents (hexane and water), the methanol extract of the U. dioica showed the highest activity for FRAP and CUPRAC methods. Results (as absorbance) were 0.302 for CUPRAC and 0.147 for FRAP in the methanol extract of the U. dioica. The acetohydroxamic acid, gallic acid, caffeic acid, ellagic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, and quercetin were qualified and quantified in LC-MS/MS analyses of Urtica dioica extract. CONCLUSIONS: U. dioica, which has antioxidant, anti-atherosclerotic and neuroprotective effects, has a natural medicine potential if compared to synthetic drugs used in Alzheimer’s patients.
... In addition, α-tocopherol regulates the production of oxygen free radicals by neutrophils following activation by Fcγ receptor and toll-like receptor ligands (Chapple et al., 2013). The antioxidant effect of αtocopherol could resist oxidative stress damage from periodontitis to prevent cognitive performance (La Fata et al., 2014). ...
Full-text available
Background Epidemiological evidence on alpha (α)-tocopherol intake and cognitive performance in older individuals is controversial and the effect of periodontitis in this chain is sparse and limited. The goal of this study was to characterize the association between α-tocopherol intake and cognitive performance and the mediating role of periodontitis in a nationally representative sample of older adults.Methods Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2011–2014, were used. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to explore the association of α-tocopherol intake, periodontal measures (mean attachment loss [AL] and mean probing depth [PD]), and clinical periodontitis defined by the European Workshop in Periodontology with poor cognitive performance evaluated by Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s disease (CERAD); the animal fluency test (AFT); and the Digit Symbol Substitution test (DSST) and the correlation between α-tocopherol intake and clinical periodontitis. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to explore the relationship between α-tocopherol intake and periodontal measures. Mediation analysis was used to test the effects of periodontal measures on the association between α-tocopherol intake and cognitive measures.ResultsA total of 1,749 older participants (≥60 years of age) with complete periodontal diagnosis, dietary retrospective survey, and cognitive tests were included. In the fully adjusted model, the odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) of CERAD score, AFT score and DSST score were 0.214 (0.137–0.327), 0.378 (0.241–0.585) and 0.298 (0.169–0.512) for the highest versus lowest tertile of α-tocopherol intake, respectively. And participants with clinical periodontitis were more likely to exhibit lower DSST score (OR = 1.689; 95 CI%: 1.018–2.771) than those without periodontitis. Mean AL (OR = 1.296; 95 CI%: 1.102–1.524) and PD (OR = 1.667; 95 CI%: 1.18–2.363) were negatively correlated with DSST, and were estimated to mediate 9.1 and 8.2% of the total association between α-tocopherol intake and cognitive performance, respectively.Conclusion Finding of the present study suggested that participants with low α-tocopherol intake were at higher risk for developing cognitive decline. Moreover, periodontitis mediated the association between α-tocopherol intake and cognitive performance.
... 41,42 The consumption of green leafy vegetables and berries, uniquely specified in the MIND diet, provides high amounts of antioxidants (vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids), 43,44 that appear to neutralize oxidative stress responsible for neurodegeneration. [45][46][47][48] In animal models, antioxidant nutrients may downregulate overall neuroinflammation and prolonged activation of microglia; this may reduce brain cytokine production that may negatively impact neurogenesis and may increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 43,44 Indeed, we previously reported that higher brain BDNF expression was associated with better CR (defined as slower cognitive decline independent of brain pathologies). ...
Full-text available
Introduction: Cognitive resilience (CR) can be defined as the continuum of better through worse than expected cognition, given the degree of neuropathology. The relation of healthy diet patterns to CR remains to be elucidated. Methods: Using longitudinal cognitive data and post mortem neuropathology from 578 deceased older adults, we examined associations between the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet at baseline and two standardized CR measures reflecting higher cognitive levels over time (CR Level ¯ $_{\overline {{\rm{Level}}}} $ ), and slower decline (CRSlope ), than expected given neuropathology. Results: Compared to individuals in the lowest tertile of MIND score, those in the top tertile had higher CR Level ¯ $_{\overline {{\rm{Level}}}} $ (mean difference [MD] = 0.34; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.14, 0.55) and CRSlope (MD = 0.27; 95% CI = 0.05, 0.48), after multivariable adjustment. Overall MIND score was more strongly related to CR than the individual food components. Discussion: The MIND diet is associated with both higher cognition and slower rates of cognitive decline, after controlling for neuropathology, indicating the MIND diet may be important to cognitive resilience.
... A γtokoferol ugyanis sokkal hatékonyabb gyökfogó, mind a szabad gyökök, mind a nitrogén oxigén gyökök vonatkozásában, ugyanakkor a legtöbb esetben az α-tokoferolt alkalmazzák szupplementumként. Ezt még tovább rontja az a tény, hogy az α-tokoferol szupplementációja esetén csökken a γ-tokoferol szintje a szérumban, azaz az α-tokoferol hatástalanítja az izoforma kedvező hatását mind MCI-ben, mind AK-ban(48,49,50). ...
Az Alzheimer-kór (AK) progresszív, multifaktoriális eredetű, jelenleg gyógyíthatatlan neurodegeneratív betegség, melynek incidenciája és prevalenciája világszerte nő a korosodó népességben. A gyógyszerkészítmények fejlődése mellett alternatív megoldásokra is szükség van, mind a prevenció, mind a kezelés érdekében. Ezen irodalmi összefoglaló fő célja a módosítható és nem módosítható kockázati tényezők ismertetése, beleértve a táplálkozást is. Számos randomizált, standardizált vizsgálat szerint egyes tápanyagok csökkentik az AK kifejlődését és segítik a kognitív funkciók fenntartását. Az AK kórtünetei közül, mint a neuronok gyulladása és elhalása, a glükózanyagcsere zavara és a homocisztein akkumulációja többé-kevésbé kivédhető a táplálkozással. A kezdeti lépéseket a szakemberek már megtették, ugyanakkor még várat magára az egymással ellentmondó eredmények feloldása és az újabb eredmények birtokában egy optimális táplálkozási irányelv kidolgozása.
Cyclotrichium niveum (Boiss.) Manden & Scheng belonging to the Lamiaceae family, which is an endemic species in the eastern Anatolian region of Turkey, has an important place in terms of ethno-botany. The phytochemical composition of the plant, inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) (which hydrolyzes the neurotransmitter acetylcholine), inhibition of paraoxonase for antiatherosclerotic activity (hPON 1) (which detoxifies organophosphates), and antioxidant capacity of this plant. Phytochemical content was determined by LCMSMS, and enzyme inhibition and antioxidant capacity studies were determined by spectrophotometer. Antioxidant capacity of C. niveum extracts (methanol, hexane, and water) was determined by applying ABTS•+, DPPH•, FRAP, and CUPRAC methods. Both the water and the methanol extracts of the C. niveum exhibited significant inhibition on the AChE (IC50 value for methanol and water extract 0.114± 0.14 mg / mL (R2:0.997) and 0.178± 0.12 mg / mL (R2: 0.994), respectively). In contrast, the methanol and water extracts of the C. niveum didn't exhibit the inhibition effect on hPON 1. The highest activity for ABTS•+ was 66.53% in the water extract, and DPPH• was 55.03% in the methanol extract. In the metal-reducing power assay, the absorbance was 0.168± 0.04 for FRAP water extract and 0.621±0.01 for CUPRAC methanol extract. According to LC-MS/MS analyses, hydroxybenzoic acid, salicylic acid, syringic acid, acetohydroxamic acid and luteolin determined in the plant extract. As a consequence, C. niveum which has antioxidant, anti-atherogenic and anti-neurodegenerative properties has the potential to be used as a natural medication instead of synthetic drugs used in Alzheimer's patients.
Olfactory dysfunction is a prevalent symptom and an early marker of age-related neurodegenerative diseases in humans, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases. However, as olfactory dysfunction is also a common symptom of normal aging, it is important to identify associated behavioral and mechanistic changes that underlie olfactory dysfunction in nonpathological aging. In the present study, we systematically investigated age-related behavioral changes in four specific domains of olfaction and the molecular basis in C57BL/6J mice. Our results showed that selective loss of odor discrimination was the earliest smelling behavioral change with aging, followed by a decline in odor sensitivity and detection while odor habituation remained in old mice. Compared to behavioral changes related with cognitive and motor functions, smelling loss was among the earliest biomarkers of aging. During aging, metabolites related with oxidative stress, osmolytes, and infection became dysregulated in the olfactory bulb, and G protein coupled receptor-related signaling was significantly down regulated in olfactory bulbs of aged mice. Poly ADP-ribosylation levels, protein expression of DNA damage markers, and inflammation increased significantly in the olfactory bulb of older mice. Lower NAD+ levels were also detected. Supplementation of NAD+ through NR in water improved longevity and partially enhanced olfaction in aged mice. Our studies provide mechanistic and biological insights into the olfaction decline during aging and highlight the role of NAD+ for preserving smelling function and general health.
Full-text available
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent, severe and disabling cause of dementia worldwide. To date, AD therapy is primarily targeted toward palliative treatment of symptoms rather than prevention of disease progression. So far, no pharmacological interventions have changed the onset or progression of AD and their use is accompanied by side effects. The major obstacle in managing AD and designing therapeutic strategies is the difficulty in retarding neuronal loss in the diseased brain once the pathological events leading to neuronal death have started. Therefore, a promising alternative strategy is to maintain a healthy neuronal population in the aging brain for as long as possible. One factor evidently important for neuronal health and function is the optimal supply of nutrients necessary for maintaining normal functioning of the brain. Mechanistic studies, epidemiological analyses and randomized controlled intervention trials provide insight to the positive effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and micronutrients such as the vitamin B family, and vitamins E, C and D, in helping neurons to cope with aging. These nutrients are cheap in use, have virtually no side effects when used at recommended doses, are essential for life, have established modes of action, and are broadly accepted by the general public. We provide here some evidence that the use of vitamins and DHA for the aging population in general, and for individuals at-risk in particular, is a viable alternative approach to delaying brain aging and for protecting against the onset of AD pathology.
Full-text available
Among older persons, disability in activities of daily living is common and highly morbid. The Precipitating Events Project (PEP Study), an ongoing longitudinal study of 754 initially nondisabled, community-living persons, aged 70 or older, was designed to further elucidate the epidemiology of disability, with the goal of informing the development of effective interventions to maintain and restore independent function. Over the past 16 years, participants have completed comprehensive, home-based assessments at 18-month intervals and have been interviewed monthly to reassess their functional status and ascertain intervening events, other health care utilization, and deaths. Findings from the PEP Study have demonstrated that the disabling process for many older persons is characterized by multiple and possibly interrelated disability episodes, even over relatively short periods of time, and that disability often results when an intervening event is superimposed upon a vulnerable host. Given the frequency of assessments, long duration of follow-up, and recent linkage to Medicare data, the PEP Study will continue to be an outstanding platform for disability research in older persons. In addition, as the number of decedents accrues, the PEP Study will increasingly become a valuable resource for investigating symptoms, function, and health care utilization at the end of life.
Full-text available
Byproducts of normal mitochondrial metabolism and homeostasis include the buildup of potentially damaging levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), Ca(2+), etc., which must be normalized. Evidence suggests that brief mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) openings play an important physiological role maintaining healthy mitochondria homeostasis. Adaptive and maladaptive responses to redox stress may involve mitochondrial channels such as mPTP and inner membrane anion channel (IMAC). Their activation causes intra- and intermitochondrial redox-environment changes leading to ROS release. This regenerative cycle of mitochondrial ROS formation and release was named ROS-induced ROS release (RIRR). Brief, reversible mPTP opening-associated ROS release apparently constitutes an adaptive housekeeping function by the timely release from mitochondria of accumulated potentially toxic levels of ROS (and Ca(2+)). At higher ROS levels, longer mPTP openings may release a ROS burst leading to destruction of mitochondria, and if propagated from mitochondrion to mitochondrion, of the cell itself. The destructive function of RIRR may serve a physiological role by removal of unwanted cells or damaged mitochondria, or cause the pathological elimination of vital and essential mitochondria and cells. The adaptive release of sufficient ROS into the vicinity of mitochondria may also activate local pools of redox-sensitive enzymes involved in protective signaling pathways that limit ischemic damage to mitochondria and cells in that area. Maladaptive mPTP- or IMAC-related RIRR may also be playing a role in aging. Because the mechanism of mitochondrial RIRR highlights the central role of mitochondria-formed ROS, we discuss all of the known ROS-producing sites (shown in vitro) and their relevance to the mitochondrial ROS production in vivo.
We evaluated the association between nutritional status and cognitive functioning in 260 noninstitutionalized men and women older than 60 years who had no known physical illnesses and were receiving no medications. Nutritional status was evaluated by three-day food records and also by biochemical determination of blood levels of specific nutrients. Cognitive status was evaluated by the Halstead-Reitan Categories Test (a nonverbal test of abstract thinking ability) and by the Wechsler Memory Test. Subjects with low blood levels of vitamins C or B12 scored worse on both tests. Subjects with low levels of riboflavin or folic acid scored worse on the categories test. These differences remained significant after controlling for age, gender, level of income, and amount of education. "Subclinical" malnutrition may play a small role in the depression of cognitive function detectable in some elderly individuals, or depressed cognitive function may result in reduced nutrient intake. (JAMA 1983;249:2917-2921)
Vitamin E (α-, β-, γ- and δ-tocopherol and -tocotrienol) is an essential factor in the human diet and regularly taken as a dietary supplement by many people, who act under the assumption that it may be good for their health and can do no harm. With the publication of meta-analyses reporting increased mortality in persons taking vitamin E supplements, the safety of the micronutrient was questioned and interactions with prescription drugs were suggested as one potentially underlying mechanism. Here, we review the evidence in the scientific literature for adverse vitamin E-drug interactions and discuss the potential of each of the eight vitamin E congeners to alter the activity of drugs. In summary, there is no evidence from animal models or randomised controlled human trials to suggest that the intake of tocopherols and tocotrienols at nutritionally relevant doses may cause adverse nutrient-drug interactions. Consumption of high-dose vitamin E supplements ( ≥ 300 mg/d), however, may lead to interactions with the drugs aspirin, warfarin, tamoxifen and cyclosporine A that may alter their activities. For the majority of drugs, however, interactions with vitamin E, even at high doses, have not been observed and are thus unlikely.
Several lines of evidence suggest that schizophrenia, a severe mental illness characterized by delusions, hallucinations and thought disorder is associated with accelerated aging. The free radical (oxidative stress) theory of aging assumes that aging occurs as a result of damage to cell constituents and connective tissues by free radicals arising from oxygen-associated reactions. Schizophrenia has been associated with oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, both of which also appear to reciprocally induce each other in a positive feedback manner. The buildup of damaged macromolecules due to increased oxidative stress and failure of protein repair and maintenance systems is an indicator of aging both at the cellular and organismal level. When compared with age-matched healthy controls, schizophrenia patients have higher levels of markers of oxidative cellular damage such as protein carbonyls, products of lipid peroxidation and DNA hydroxylation. Potential confounders such as antipsychotic medication, smoking, socio-economic status and unhealthy lifestyle make it impossible to solely attribute the earlier onset of aging-related changes or oxidative stress to having a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Regardless of whether oxidative stress can be attributed solely to a diagnosis of schizophrenia or whether it is due to other factors associated with schizophrenia, the available evidence is in support of increased oxidative stress-induced cellular damage of macromolecules which may play a role in the phenomenon of accelerated aging presumed to be associated with schizophrenia.