Purpose of review: Despite compelling evidence regarding the importance of oxidant stress in the development of vascular complications and observational studies suggesting that vitamin E may be protective from these complications, multiple clinical trials have failed to show benefit from vitamin E supplementation in the prevention of vascular complications in diabetes. One possible explanation for this failure of vitamin E may have been inappropriate patient selection. This review seeks to provide the clinical evidence and mechanistic basis for why a subset of individuals defined by their haptoglobin (Hp) genotype may derive cardiovascular protection by vitamin E supplementation.
Recent findings: Clinical trial data from the HOPE, ICARE, and WHS studies is presented showing a pharmacogenomic interaction between the Hp genotype and vitamin E on the development of CVD. Specifically, in individuals with diabetes and the Hp2-2 genotype, vitamin E has been shown to be associated with an approximately 35% reduction in CVD. Cardioprotection by vitamin E in individuals with the Hp2-2 genotype appears to be mediated in part by an improvement in HDL functionality as demonstrated in three independent trials in both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Vitamin E may provide benefit in reducing CVD in Hp2-2 individuals with diabetes. However, in order for this pharmacogenomic algorithm to be accepted as a standard of care and used clinically, an additional large prospective study will need to be performed.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Haptoglobin; High-density lipoproteins; Oxidative stress; Vitamin E.