Vitamin E and failing kidneys

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Scientific discoveries and ongoing research

. . . Could it be possible that someday vitamin E may free people with kidney failure from life-disrupting--albeit lifesaving--dialysis? Kidney damage, which can be caused by the immune system, infection or exposure to toxic chemicals, can sometimes be controlled with anti-inflammatory drugs. But all too often the disease progresses to the point that patients need dialysis or even a kidney transplant. Now research shows that in laboratory rats vitamin E plays a role in control of kidney disease. Doctors at the Schneider Children's Hospital, Long Island campus of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, injected a group of rats with a chemical that causes the same sort of kidney inflammation and scarring that occurs in people who have a condition called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Then they fed half the rats a chow fortified with vitamin E, while the other rats ate their regular food. During the three-month study, the rats that got the vitamin E had less protein in their urine, and lower blood levels of albumin and cholesterol--all signs that they were suffering less kidney damage than the rats that were not getting the supplement. This bolsters researchers' hypothesis that kidneys are damaged by free radicals. They need to do more animal studies, however, before they can begin testing the vitamin in kidney patients (Clinical Research, October 1992).

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By Martha Capwell

With Teresa A. Yeykal

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