French scientists have found that vitamin E can reduce joint destruction in mice with a rheumatoid arthritis-like condition - suggesting that the vitamin should be studied as a potential therapy for the human disease. The vitamin did not help the symptoms of the disease in mice, but it did prevent some breakdown in the animals' joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints, leading to pain, swelling and loss of mobility. Joint destruction occurs over time. Potentially damaging forms of oxygen in the body called reactive oxygen species are thought to play a role in this process. In line with this theory, rheumatoid arthritis patients have been found to have low blood levels of antioxidants like vitamins E and C, which help neutralize reactive oxygen species.
In the present study, the investigators found that after 6 weeks of vitamin E treatment, mice with the arthritic condition showed symptoms, but the destruction in their bone and cartilage was much less severe than that in animals not given the vitamin. The vitamin-treated mice also showed lower blood levels of an inflammatory protein produced by the immune system called interleukin-1beta-which is involved in joint destruction.
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