Vitamin E levels in human atherosclerotic plaque: the influence of risk factors1


      Recent studies suggest that vitamin E may be an important preventative factor in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. In order to more clearly define the role of vitamin E in atherosclerosis, we measured vitamin E, conjugated dienes, and lipid flurochromes, as well as cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipid in arterial and venous tissue of 83 patients. Serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in patients with aortic occlusive (AIOD) and aneurysmal (AAA) disease than in control organ donors (OD). Tissue cholesterol concentrations were significantly elevated in AAA tissue when compared to OD and tissue from patients with peripheral occlusive disease (POD). Tissue from patients with AIOD contained greater concentrations of phospholipid (PL) than were measured in patients with POD and in OD. Vitamin E concentrations were highest in POD tissue and approximately 3.0, 2.0, and 1.6 fold greater than OD, AIOD and AAA tissue respectively. Diene conjugates and lipid fluorochromes, measures of early and intermediate products of lipid peroxidation, were markedly elevated in all diseased arterial tissue compared to controls. There were no significant differences in tissue or serum lipid levels between saphenous vein (SVBG) and diseased vein grafts (DVG). However, conjugated diene concentrations were elevated in DVG compared to SVBG. Vitamin E levels were significantly elevated in diseased arterial and venous tissue (AIOD, AAA, POD, DVG) removed from patients with diabetes (P = 0.013) and hypertension (P = 0.049) compared to those without these risk factors. Diabetes was the only risk factor associated with significantly increased (P = 0.005) levels of vitamin E when only data from atherosclerotic arterial tissue (AAA, POD, AIOD) were analyzed. These preliminary data provide additional evidence of altered vitamin E metabolism and free radical processes in the tissues of patients with various manifestations of atherosclerosis.


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