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Vitamin E enhances response to immune therapies

Vitamin E enhances response to immune therapies


  • Antioxidant properties are recognized only if the products contain at least 1.8 mg of vitamin E per 100 grams or 100 milliliters or per package if the product contains only one serving.
  • Vitamin E deficiency is manifested by pain and burning in the feet and hands, but it is very rare and appears only after several years of not taking it.

Sunflower oil, spinach, avocado, cabbage, nuts… and many more foods that contain vitamin E! The latter is known for its antioxidant properties, that is, it contributes to the protection of our cells. But according to a recent study published in the journal Cancer discoveryIt would have another benefit: improving the effectiveness of immunotherapy in patients with cancer. As a reminder, immunotherapy is a treatment that strengthens and stimulates the patient’s immune system to fight its diseases.

Vitamin E stimulates the activity of immune cells

So the researchers discovered during their work that vitamin E stimulates the activity of dendritic cells, that is, immune cells that are involved in stimulating the body’s immune responses. It is this phenomenon that will improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

To arrive at their findings, the scientists analyzed health data of patients who were undergoing immunotherapy to treat melanoma, a tumor in the skin. They found that people who took vitamin E had a better survival rate than those who didn’t. Then they ran other experiments and noticed the same results with breast, colon, and kidney cancers…but only for immunotherapy and not for chemotherapy.

T cells and cancer cells

Our immune system has many cells, including those called T cells, that help the body fight infection and destroy abnormal cells, including cancer cells. Normally, our immune system prevents them from attacking normal cells by using proteins called checkpoints. In other words, these checkpoint proteins direct the action of T cells.

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But some cancer cells can send signals that confuse T cells and prevent them from working. Ultimately, this allows cancer to multiply more easily in the body. Thus, for the treatment of some types of cancer, immune checkpoint inhibitors are used. These are antibodies that block specific checkpoint proteins and thus allow immune cells to attack and destroy cancer cells.

The role of SHP1

“This study improves our understanding of factors that can increase the efficacy of immunotherapy. We have shown that vitamin E can enhance the functioning of dendritic cells by inhibiting the SHP1 checkpoint protein,”Dehua Yu, one of the study’s authors, explained. In fact, scientists have just discovered that vitamin E precisely inhibits the activity of a checkpoint protein called “SHP1” in dendritic cells, improving the effectiveness of patients’ immune T cells.

“SHP1 could be an interesting therapeutic target to enhance dendritic cell action and improve the efficacy of immunotherapy. Our work provides important information about the interaction between vitamin E and SHP1 that will help us develop specific SHP1 inhibitors,” said Xiangliang Yuan. One of the authors. An interesting treatment strategy that scientists plan to work on in future research.