This study evaluated the possibility of inhibiting protein glycosylation in vivo with vitamin E.

Research Design and Methods

Two groups of 10 insulin-requiring diabetic patients, matched for duration of disease and metabolic control, received daily vitamin E supplementation of 1200 and 600 mg, respectively, for 2 mo. A third group of 10 diabetic patients, matched for duration of disease and metabolic control, served as the control group and received placebo. Fasting plasma glucose, mean daily plasma glucose, fasting labile HbA1, and glycosylated proteins were measured in the basal state and after 1 and 2 mo of treatment. In addition, hyperglycemic clamp studies were performed in basal state and after 1 mo of vitamin E administration in all patients.


Glycemic indices did not show any significant changes during the study, whereas fasting labile HbA, and glycosylated proteins decreased significantly after 1 and 2 mo in patients on vitamin E administration. Stable HbA1 decreased after 2 mo. Mean glycemic incremental area in the hyperglycemic clamp procedure was similar before and after treatment, whereas a significant reduction in mean labile HbA1 incremental area was found after vitamin E supplementation. A significant difference was also found in both fasting and incremental labile HbA1 levels, stable HbA1, and glycosylated proteins between the two groups of diabetic patients on the two doses of vitamin E; the diabetic patients who received the higher dose of vitamin E showed the greater reduction. No significant changes in these parameters were observed in diabetic patients on placebo administration.


These results demonstrate that vitamin E administration may reduce protein glycosylation in diabetic subjects independently of changes in plasma glucose, an effect that may be due to the inhibition of labile glycosylation, the first step of the Maillard reaction. Long-term studies will help establish the usefulness of vitamin E administration for the prevention of diabetic complications.

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