Vitamin E improves ulcerative colitis in preliminary study
An article published in the October 21, 2008 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology reported the results of a study which found that rectal administration of vitamin E improves ulcerative colitis symptoms in men and women with mild to moderate forms of the disease. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for which current therapies fail to help approximately one-third of the patients receiving them.
Seyed Amir Mirbagheri and colleagues at the Amir-Alam hospital in Tehran, Iran enrolled 15 volunteers who were receiving treatment with oral drugs for ulcerative colitis. Participants were instructed to administer 8000 international units D-alpha-tocopherol by enema every night for 12 weeks. Endoscopic examination of the colon was performed at the beginning of the study, after the fourth week and at the end of the treatment period. Disease activity was assessed periodically throughout the course of the study.
After the second week, disease activity decreased and remained lower for the remainder of the study. All patients showed a significant response to treatment by the study's conclusion, including nine who experienced clinical remission. No worsening of symptoms or serious adverse events occurred.
Since oxygen free radicals are believed to play a dominant role in the development of the damage to the mucosa that occurs in ulcerative colitis, vitamin E's antioxidant property is likely a major mechanism involved in the study's findings. The vitamin also has an anti-inflammatory effect, as demonstrated by recent research.
"To the best our our knowledge, this is the first data on remission-inducing properties of vitamin E," the authors announce. "This study also confirms the feasibility and acceptability of rectal administration of vitamin E in patients with IBD."
"Based on our preliminary results vitamin E might show considerable promise as a new therapeutic modality for IBD," they conclude.