Previous studies had suggested that vitamin E might improve the immune system. In animal studies vitamin E seemed to protect against various infections.
Harri Hemila and Jaakko Kaprio, of the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, studied whether vitamin E supplementation might decrease the risk of tuberculosis. They analyzed the data of the randomized trial (Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study) which was conducted in Finland between 1985-1993 and included male smokers aged 50-69 years. There were 174 cases of tuberculosis in 29,023 participants during the 6-year supplementation of 50 mg/day vitamin E.
The effect of vitamin E on tuberculosis risk was modified by the intake of vitamin C in diet. Vitamin E had no effect on participants who had dietary vitamin C intake less than 90 mg/day. Unexpectedly, vitamin E supplementation increased tuberculosis risk by 72% in those who had dietary vitamin C intake over 90 mg/day. The most dramatic increase in tuberculosis risk by vitamin E was restricted to a one-year period after the initiation of supplementation.
The US nutritional recommendations, issued by the prestigious Institute of Medicine, consider that vitamin E is safe in amounts up to 1000 mg/day. This new study suggests that in some population groups vitamin E supplementation may be harmful at a substantially lower dose, 50 mg/day.
The researchers concluded that “the consumption of vitamin E supplements by the general population should be discouraged because there is evidence of harm for some people.”
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Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
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