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Your Environment. Your Health.

Vitamin E Needed to Develop Healthy Nervous System

Oregon State University
Robyn Tanguay, Ph.D.

Embryos produced by vitamin E-deficient zebrafish had severely malformed brains and nervous systems, according to a study by NIEHS grant recipients. The researchers previously discovered that zebrafish embryos lacking the gene TTPA, which codes for a protein that controls vitamin E distribution in the body, have nervous system defects and die within 24 hours of fertilization. Here, they tested whether vitamin E, not just TTPA, was necessary for nervous system development.

The researchers fed zebrafish either vitamin E sufficient (E-pos) or deficient (E-neg) diets and spawned them to obtain embryos. They assessed embryo mortality as well as expression of TTPA and other genes that mark important neurodevelopmental timepoints. Using imaging techniques, they compared development of the brain, eye, and other nervous system structures in the embryos.

Vitamin E-neg embryos had higher rates of mortality and severe brain and eye deformation compared to vitamin E-pos embryos. Expression of genes critical in nervous system development and differentiation was altered in vitamin E-neg embryos. Imaging revealed defects in formation of the fore-, mid- and hindbrain of vitamin E-neg embryos. TTPA expression was not disrupted by the vitamin E status, suggesting that vitamin E itself, and not TTPA, is required for healthy brain and nervous system development.

Citation: Head B, La Du J, Tanguay RL, Kioussi C, Traber MG. 2020. Vitamin E is necessary for zebrafish nervous system development. Sci Rep 10(1):15028.

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