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Vitamin E supplementation and in vivo immune response in healthy elderly subjects. A randomized controlled trial.

JAMA 1997 May 7;277(17):1380-6 (ISSN: 0098-7484)

Meydani SN; Meydani M; Blumberg JB; Leka LS; Siber G; Loszewski R; Thompson C; Pedrosa MC; Diamond RD; Stollar BD Nutritional Immunology Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA. SvMeydanivIM@HNRC.TUFTS.EDU.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether long-term supplementation with vitamin E enhances in vivo, clinically relevant measures of cell-mediated immunity in healthy elderly subjects. DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 88 free-living, healthy subjects at least 65 years of age. INTERVENTION: Subjects were randomly assigned to a placebo group or to groups consuming 60, 200, or 800 mg/d of vitamin E for 235 days. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Delayed-type hypersensitivity skin response (DTH); antibody response to hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria, and pneumococcal vaccines; and autoantibodies to DNA and thyroglobulin were assessed before and after supplementation. RESULTS: Supplementation with vitamin E for 4 months improved certain clinically relevant indexes of cell-mediated immunity in healthy elderly. Subjects consuming 200 mg/d of vitamin E had a 65% increase in DTH and a 6-fold increase in antibody titer to hepatitis B compared with placebo (17% and 3-fold, respectively), 60-mg/d (41% and 3-fold, respectively), and 800-mg/d (49% and 2.5-fold, respectively) groups. The 200-mg/d group also had a significant increase in antibody titer to tetanus vaccine. Subjects in the upper tertile of serum alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) concentration (>48.4 micromol/L [2.08 mg/dL]) after supplementation had higher antibody response to hepatitis B and DTH. Vitamin E supplementation had no effect on antibody titer to diphtheria and did not affect immunoglobulin levels or levels of T and B cells. No significant effect of vitamin E supplementation on autoantibody levels was observed. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that a level of vitamin E greater than currently recommended enhances certain clinically relevant in vivo indexes of T-cell-mediated function in healthy elderly persons. No adverse effects were observed with vitamin E supplementation.

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