Vitamin E regulates mitochondrial hydrogen peroxide generation

Ching K. Chow, Wissam Ibrahim, Zhihua Wei, Alvin C. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


The mitochondrial electron transport system consumes more than 85% of all oxygen used by the cells, and up to 5% of the oxygen consumed by mitochondria is converted to superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) under normal physiologic conditions. Disruption of mitochondrial ultrastructure is one of the earliest pathologic events during vitamin E depletion. The present studies were undertaken to test whether a direct link exists between vitamin E and the production of hydrogen peroxide in the mitochondria. In the first experiment, mice were fed a vitamin E-deficient or-sufficient diet for 15 weeks, after which the mitochondria from liver and skeletal muscle were isolated to determine the rates of hydrogen peroxide production. Deprivation of vitamin E resulted in an approximately 5-fold increase of mitochondrial hydrogen peroxide production in skeletal muscle and a 1-fold increase in liver when compared with the vitamin E-supplemented group. To determine whether vitamin E can dose-dependently influence the production of hydrogen peroxide, four groups of male and female rats were fed diets containing 0, 20, 200, or 2000 IU/kg vitamin E for 90 d. Results showed that dietary vitamin E dose-dependently attenuated hydrogen peroxide production in mitochondria isolated from liver and skeletal muscle of male and female rats. Female rats, however, were more profoundly affected by dietary vitamin E than male rats in the suppression of mitochondrial hydrogen peroxide production in both organs studied. These results showed that vitamin E can directly regulate hydrogen peroxide production in mitochondria and suggest that the overproduction of mitochondrial ROS is the first event leading to the tissue damage observed in vitamin E-deficiency syndromes. Data further suggested that by regulating mitochondrial production of ROS, vitamin E modulates the expression and activation of signal transduction pathways and other redox-sensitive biologic modifiers, and thereby delays or prevents degenerative tissue changes. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-587
Number of pages8
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Free radicals
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Liver
  • Mitochondria
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Superoxide
  • Vitamin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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