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Vitamin E may guard brain after stroke

Posted Jan 13 2010 12:00am
by Kangna Agarwal - January 13, 2010
New York, January 13 -- A new research finds that vitamin E may help in reversing brain damage in stroke victims and could serve as a vital therapeutic target.
The study suggests that a natural kind of vitamin E called tocotrienol has the properties to block the function of a brain enzyme. This may help in preventing the brain nerve cells from dying after stroke.
Mouse model studied
For the study, researchers from the Ohio State University
carried out a lab experiment to determine how tocotrienol protects the brain in mouse model.
Following a disturbance in the blood flow with a stroke, a neurotransmitter called glutamate is released in the brain, excess of which causes a brain enzyme to release fatty acids. Too much of it can lead to death of the brain cells called neurons.
In order to imitate similar environment in the brain of the mouse model, scientists introduced excess amounts of glutamate in the animal cells.
They also exposed some of the brain cells to tocotrienol vitamin E.
Tocotrienol found to protect brain cells
Analysis of the cell culture revealed that the vitamin prevented the brain enzyme from releasing fatty acids by 60 percent than cells exposed to excess glutamate alone.
It was also observed that cells treated with tocotrienol vitamin E were four times more likely to survive compared to cells exposed to glutamate alone.
"Our research suggests that the different forms of natural vitamin E
have distinct functions," said Chandan Sen, OSU professor of surgery and senior study author.
"The relatively poorly studied tocotrienol form of natural vitamin E targets specific pathways to protect against neural cell death and rescues the brain after stroke injury."
"Here, we identify a novel target for tocotrienol that explains how neural cells are protected," added Sen.
The OSU scientists now intend to look for measures and carry out tests on the vitamin to pronounce its potential in the prevention as well as treatment of stroke injuries in humans.
The study is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Neurochemistry.
Stroke and symptoms
According to WebMd, stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. As a consequence, part of blood and oxygen carried by it doesn’t reach the brain, which starts dying after being devoid of the two.
Symptoms of a brain stroke are sudden. They include sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in victim's face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of the body, sudden vision changes, inability to understand or formulate speech, and a sudden, severe headache, different from past ones.
Hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, cigarette smoking are some key risk factors which may trigger brain stroke.
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