A new study in vitamin E deprived rats appears to have revealed the mechanism behind the beneficial effects of vitamin E on muscle health. Vitamin E deficiency is known to cause serious muscle weakness in humans, but until now the reasons were unknown. Labazi et al. found the anti-oxidant activity of vitamin E and probably Glutathione 4 peroxidase (Gpx4) are an essential component of the membrane repair mechanism in skeletal muscle.
In previous cell culture experiments, Labazi et al. had shown oxidants inhibit the repair of muscle cells, but that vitamin E, a potent anti-oxidant, promoted membrane repair. In the current study, Labazi et al. found that specially bred rats with severe vitamin E deficiency suffered catastrophic damage to their skeletal muscle, but the effects could be reversed with vitamin E supplementation.
They also found that absence of another anti-oxidant, glutathione peroxidase 4 (Gpx4) had similar effects – and again vitamin E supplementation was necessary to restore homeostasis. The study provides a convincing explanation why vitamin E is essential to muscle health and identifies its key role as in the plasma membrane repair mechanism.