Vitamin E would enhance the response to immunotherapies


  • The antioxidant properties are only recognized if the products contain at least 1.8 milligrams of vitamin E per 100 grams, 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 only occurs after several years without taking it.

Sunflower oil, spinach, avocado, cabbage, nuts… and many other foods that contain vitamin E! The latter is known for its antioxidant properties, which means it helps protect our cells. But according to a recent study published in the journal cancer detection, it would have another benefit: improving the effectiveness of immunotherapy treatments in cancer patients. As a reminder, immunotherapy is a treatment that strengthens and stimulates the patient’s immune system to fight against his pathology.

Vitamin E stimulates the activity of immune cells

The researchers therefore discovered during their work that vitamin E stimulates the activity of dendritic cells, i.e. immune cells that are involved in triggering the body’s own immune response. It is this phenomenon that would improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

To arrive at their results, the scientists analyzed the health data of patients undergoing immunotherapy for melanoma, a skin tumor. They found that people who took vitamin E had better survival rates than those who didn’t. They then ran other experiments and observed the same results in breast, colon, and kidney cancers… But only for immunotherapy, never for chemotherapy.

T cells and cancer cells

There are several cells in our immune system, including cells called T cells, that help our 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 channel the action of T cells.

But some cancer cells can send out signals that confuse T cells and stop them from working. Ultimately, this makes it easier for the cancer to spread throughout the body. Therefore, immune checkpoint inhibitors are used to treat certain types of cancer. These are antibodies that block certain checkpoint proteins, allowing immune cells to attack and destroy cancer cells.

The role of SHP1

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

“SHP1 could therefore be an interesting therapeutic target to enhance dendritic cell effects and improve the efficacy of immunotherapy. Our work provides important information on the interaction between vitamin E and SHP1, which will help us to design specific SHP1 inhibitors,” said Xiangliang Yuan, one of the authors. An interesting therapeutic strategy that scientists want to work on in future research.

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