BACKGROUND: Aging is a highly complex biological process driven by multiple factors. Its progression can partially be influenced by nutritional interventions. Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble anti-oxidant that is investigated as nutritional supplement for its ability to prevent or delay the onset of specific aging pathologies, including neurodegenerative disorders.
PURPOSE: We aimed here to investigate the effect of vitamin E during aging progression in a well characterized mouse model for premature aging.
METHOD: Xpg-/- animals received diets with low (~2.5 mg/kg feed), medium (75 mg/kg feed) or high (375 mg/kg feed) vitamin E concentration and their phenotype was monitored during aging progression. Vitamin E content was analyzed in the feed, for stability reasons, and in mouse plasma, brain, and liver, for effectiveness of the treatment. Subsequent age-related changes were monitored for improvement by increased vitamin E or worsening by depletion in both liver and nervous system, organs sensitive to oxidative stress.
RESULTS: Mice supplemented with high levels of vitamin E showed a delayed onset of age-related body weight decline and appearance of tremors when compared to mice with a low dietary vitamin E intake. DNA damage resulting in liver abnormalities such as changes in polyploidy, was considerably prevented by elevated amounts of vitamin E. Additionally, immunohistochemical analyses revealed that high intake of vitamin E, when compared with low and medium levels of vitamin E in the diet, reduces the number of p53-positive cells throughout the brain, indicative of a lower number of cells dying due to DNA damage accumulated over time.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data underline a neuroprotective role of vitamin E in the premature aging animal model used in this study, likely via a reduction of oxidative stress, and implies the importance of improved nutrition to sustain health.