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Front Neurol. 2019 Feb 26;10:148. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00148. eCollection 2019.

Dietary Vitamin E as a Protective Factor for Parkinson's Disease: Clinical and Experimental Evidence.

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Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.
IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy.
Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


Effective disease-modifying treatments are an urgent need for Parkinson's disease (PD). A putative successful strategy is to counteract oxidative stress, not only with synthetic compounds, but also with natural agents or dietary choices. Vitamin E, in particular, is a powerful antioxidant, commonly found in vegetables and other components of the diet. In this work, we performed a questionnaire based case-control study on 100 PD patients and 100 healthy controls. The analysis showed that a higher dietary intake of Vitamin E was inversely associated with PD occurrence independently from age and gender (OR = 1.022; 95% CI = 0.999-1.045; p < 0.05), though unrelated to clinical severity. Then, in order to provide a mechanistic explanation for such observation, we tested the effects of Vitamin E and other alimentary antioxidants in vitro, by utilizing the homozygous PTEN-induced kinase 1 knockout (PINK1 -/-) mouse model of PD. PINK1 -/- mice exhibit peculiar alterations of synaptic plasticity at corticostriatal synapses, consisting in the loss of both long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD), in the absence of overt neurodegeneration. Chronic administration of Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol and the water-soluble analog trolox) fully restored corticostriatal synaptic plasticity in PINK1 -/- mice, suggestive of a specific protective action. Vitamin E might indeed compensate PINK1 haploinsufficiency and mitochondrial impairment, reverting some central steps of the pathogenic process. Altogether, both clinical and experimental findings suggest that Vitamin E could be a potential, useful agent for PD patients. These data, although preliminary, may encourage future confirmatory trials.


PINK1; Parkinson's disease; Vitamin E; antioxidant; diet; neuroprotection; protective factors; synaptic plasticity

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