Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Oct;175(4 Pt 1):793-9.

Dietary vitamin E prophylaxis and diabetic embryopathy: morphologic and biochemical analysis.

Author information

Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA.



In this study we sought to determine whether dietary supplementation with vitamin E, a known antioxidant, would reduce the incidence of diabetic embryopathy in an in vivo rat model.


Eighty-day-old Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to one of five groups: two control groups (groups 1 and 2) and three diabetic groups (groups 3, 4, and 5). One group of controls (group 2) and one group of diabetic rats (group 4) received dietary supplements of vitamin E (440 mg/day). The other three groups (groups 1, 3, and 5) received a normal diet only. Group 5 received insulin therapy to control glucose levels. On day 6 of gestation diabetes was induced in groups 3, 4, and 5 with streptozotocin (65 mg/kg). Animals were killed on day 12; embryos were examined for size, protein content, evidence of malformations, and superoxide dismutase activity.


In both groups (groups 3 and 4) of diabetic rats the mean blood glucose level than was significantly higher in controls. Insulin-treated animals (group 5) had glucose levels that were comparable to those of controls. The unsupplemented diabetic group had a neural tube defect rate of 21.48% +/- 9.6% (percentage of neural tube defects per rat) and a resorption rate of 21.37% +/- 20.39% (percentage of resorptions per rat) as compared with rates in the supplemented diabetic group of 6.92% +/- 4.08% and 2.17% +/- 3.74%, respectively (p < 0.01). Groups 1, 2, and 5 had similar neural tube defect rates (6.63% +/- 5.0%, 5.01% +/- 4.87%, and 3.55% +/- 5.92%, respectively. Vitamin E levels, measured by high-performance liquid chromatography, were significantly higher in maternal serum and embryos in the supplemented groups (p < 0.001) than in controls. Superoxide dismutase activity was reduced in the diabetes groups and was not affected by vitamin E therapy.


Supplementation with the antioxidant vitamin E confers a significant protective effect against diabetic embryopathy and may potentially serve as a dietary prophylaxis in the future. We postulate that this protective effect is mediated by a reduction in the oxidative load induced by hyperglycemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center