Senior author Chandan Sen of The Ohio State University and colleagues spent the last 10 years documenting in cell cultures and rodents how a natural form of vitamin E -- tocotrienol -- protects brain cells from dying after a stroke.
"For the first time, in this pre-clinical large-animal model, we were able to see something that we were never able to see in the mouse or the rat -- that if you had a stroke and you had prophylactically taken tocotrienol, the area of the brain affected by the stroke received blood flow from the collaterals," Sen says in a statement. "These collaterals, which are an emergency response system, wake up when the blood circulation in the brain is challenged."
In the study -- published online ahead of the print publication in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism -- lesions indicating brain tissue damage were about 80 percent smaller 24 hours after a stroke in dogs that received supplementation than in dogs that received no intervention.
Imaging tests showed the treated animals' brains had better blood flow at the stroke site as compared to untreated dogs' brains, the study says.
A phase II trial of the effectiveness of vitamin E in humans is in the planning stages, Sen says.