Open Access Research article

Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) supplementation in diabetic rats: effects on the proximal colon

Luciana P Roldi*, Renata VF Pereira, Eleandro A Tronchini, Gabriela V Rizo, Célia R Scoaris, Jacqueline N Zanoni and Maria RM Natali

Author Affiliations

Department of Morphophysiological Sciences, Laboratory of Enteric Neurons, State University of Maringá, Brazil

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Gastroenterology 2009, 9:88  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-9-88

Published: 23 November 2009



Neuropathy is one of the complications caused by diabetes mellitus which is directly related to the gastrointestinal manifestations of the disease. Antioxidant substances, such as vitamin E, may play an important role in the reduction of the neurological damage caused by diabetes mellitus. The aim of the present study was to determine whether vitamin E (α-tocopherol) at different concentrations induces any effects on the morphology of the intestinal wall and intrinsic innervation in the proximal colon of diabetic rats.


Thirty rats (90-day-old) were assigned to the following groups: N (normoglycemic), NE1 (normoglycemic supplemented with vitamin E 0.1%), NE2 (normoglycemic supplemented with vitamin E 2%), D (diabetic), DE1 (diabetic supplemented with vitamin E 0.1%), and DE2 (diabetic supplemented with vitamin E 2%). Animals received vitamin E supplementation for 120 days and were sacrificed when they were 210 days old. The proximal colon of each animal was subjected to histology to study the intestinal wall and goblet cells and processed for whole-mount preparations to morphoquantitatively determine the total myenteric population.


Supplementation with vitamin E significantly reduced glycemia and glycated hemoglobin values and preserved the number of myenteric neurons in group DE2, without affecting intestinal area or thickness of the intestinal wall or muscular tunic.


Vitamin E (2%) influenced the glycemic parameters and had a neuroprotective effect on the total myenteric population, but the morphometric characteristics of the intestinal wall were unaffected.