Tocotrienols Prevent Excitotoxic Brain Cell Death
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Researchers at Ohio State University have shown that alpha tocotrienol1, a special kind of vitamin E, can neutralize the chain of events that commonly leads to brain cell death, an ability that not only offers general protection from common pollution and stress but also preserves the brain following stroke.
Under excessive glutamate activation nerve cells can become hyper-excited, a form of stress known as excitotoxic stress. When this happens fatty acids that comprise the cell wall of brain cells are damaged, setting in motion a chain of events leading to brain cell death. Alpha tocotrienol was able to stop this problem from occurring.
“Our research suggests that the different forms of natural vitamin E have distinct functions. The relatively poorly studied tocotrienol form of natural vitamin E targets specific pathways to protect against neural cell death and rescues the brain after stroke injury,” said Chandan Sen, professor and vice chair for research in Ohio State’s Department of Surgery and senior author of the study.
“We have studied an enzyme that is present all the time, but one that is activated after a stroke in a way that causes neurodegeneration. We found that it can be put in check by very low levels of tocotrienol,” he said. “So what we have here is a naturally derived nutrient, rather than a drug, that provides this beneficial impact.”
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