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Mutat Res. 1995 Apr;346(4):195-202.

Vitamin E prevents exercise-induced DNA damage.

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Abteilung Medizinische Genetik, Universität Ulm, Germany.


The single cell gel test (SCG test or comet assay) was used to study DNA damage in peripheral white blood cells (WBC) of humans after a single bout of exhaustive exercise and the effect of vitamin supplementation. Human subjects were asked to run on a treadmill until exhaustion and blood samples were taken before and 24 h after the run. A clear increase in DNA strand breakage was observed in the 24-h sample of all probands. A short-term application of multivitamin pills or vitamin E (3 x 800 mg) resulted in a significantly smaller increase of DNA effects in WBC of some probands. When the volunteers were given a supplement of vitamin E (1200 mg daily) for 14 days prior to a run, exercise-induced DNA damage was clearly reduced in all probands. In four out of five subjects, vitamin supplementation completely prevented the induction of DNA damage after exhaustive exercise. Intake of vitamin E for 14 days led to a clear increase in vitamin E serum concentrations. Malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker of lipid peroxidation, was measured in the serum of probands in tests with and without vitamin supplementation for 14 days. MDA concentrations were significantly decreased following vitamin E supplementation but not significantly changed 15 min and 24 h after a run. Our results demonstrate that vitamin E prevents exercise-induced DNA damage and indicate that DNA breakage occurs in WBC after exhaustive exercise as a consequence of oxidative stress.

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