Is vitamin E involved in the autoimmune mechanism?
Cutis. 1978 Mar;21(3):321-5. PMID: 343998
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by an alteration of the body's defense mechanism, designed for protection against infections and toxic injuries, which for unknown reasons attacks and destroys normal tissue. Some evidence strongly suggests that such diseases are the result of hydrolytic enzymes that escape from lysosomes whose membranes have been damaged by lipid peroxidation or other causes and that combine with and denature normal tissue proteins--in effect converting them into foreign proteins--to which the body then reacts by producing antibodies. During the past ten years, in a private dermatologic practice, we have conducted clinical investigations on the possible therapeutic value of vitamin E in the management of a number of disabling skin diseases of unknown etiology as well as several muscular disorders. Among the diseases that were successfully controlled were a number in the autoimmune category, including scleroderma, discoid lupus erythematosus, porphyria cutanea tarda, several types of vasculitis, and polymyositis. Since vitamin E is a physiologic stabilizer of cellular and lysosomal membranes, and since some autoimmune diseases respond to vitamin E, we suggest that a relative deficiency of vitamin E damages lysosomal membranes, thus initiating the autoimmune process.