Lead researcher Kimberly Huey, a professor of Kinesiology and Community Health at the university, revealed that the study investigated the effects of prior administration of Vitamin E in mice that were then injected with a low dose of E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce acute systemic inflammation.
She further revealed that the effects were compared with those found in placebo control groups.
The researcher pointed out that past research had already shown that the antioxidant properties of Vitamin E might reduce expression of certain cytokines, regulatory proteins that are known to be pro-inflammatory.
She said that her team studied the impact the Vitamin E or placebo treatment on the mRNA and protein levels of three cytokines - interleukin (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and IL-1beta.
"The mice were administered Vitamin E for three days prior to giving them what amounts to a minor systemic bacterial infection. One thing we did - in addition to (looking at) the cytokines - was to look, in the muscle, at the amount of oxidized proteins," she said.
"Oxidation can be detrimental, and in muscle has been associated with reduced muscle strength," she added.
Telling about the research team's major findings, Kimberley said: "There was a significant reduction in the amount of LPS-induced oxidized proteins with Vitamin E compared to placebo."
She added: "So that's a good thing. Potentially, if you reduce the oxidized proteins, that may correlate to increased muscle strength."
The researchers observed a significant decrease in two cytokines with Vitamin E, namely, IL-6 and IL-1beta. This finding generated somewhat mixed reactions.
"It's hard to say functionally what those cytokine changes might mean. IL-1beta is primarily a pro-inflammatory cytokine, so that could be a good thing - especially in terms of cardiac function," Huey said.
She, however, added: "IL-6 can have both pro- or anti-inflammatory actions."
She said that previous studies, though pointed to the detrimental effects of chronic increases in IL-6, the effects of its acute increases in skeletal muscles-which occur during exercise-may be another story.
"Whether there's a difference between exercise-induced increases versus inflammation-induced increases in IL-6 is still highly debatable," she said.
However, Kimberly is still upbeat that Vitamin E "may be beneficial in individuals with chronic inflammation, such as the elderly or patients with type II diabetes or chronic heart failure."
An article on this study has been published in the journal Experimental Physiology.