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W G Robison, T Kuwabara, J G Bieri; Vitamin E deficiency and the retina: photoreceptor and pigment epithelial changes.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1979;18(7):683-690.
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To investigate the role of normal vitamin E levels and the interrelationships between vitamin E and A in maintaining the visual cells of the retina, weanling female Sprague-Dawley rats were fed vitamin E-free diets differing tenfold in their vitamin A content (0.8 and 8.0 mg of retinol per kilogram of diet). Rats on vitamin E-free diets with the higher vitamin A level exhibited marked disruption of photoreceptor outer segment membranes and a fivefold increase in the number of lipofuscin granules in the pigment epithelial cells which ingest these membranes. Rats on vitamin E-free diets with the lower vitamin A level showed the same retinal damages plus significant loss of photoreceptor cells compared to age-matched rats on control diets. Rods and cones were involved equally, and their pattern of loss was not like that found in vitamin A deficiency. Normal levels of vitamin E probably protect photoreceptor membranes from oxidative damage and retard the accumulation of their remnants and other products of lipid breakdown in the pigment epithelium. The vitamin A status of rats has a significant influence on the extent of damage induced by vitamin E deficiency.
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