Association of Circulating Vitamin E (alpha- and gamma-Tocopherol) Levels with Gallstone Disease


Sabina Waniek, Romina Di Giuseppe, Tuba Esatbeyoglu, Ilka Ratjen, Janna Enderle, Gunnar Jacobs, Ute Nothlings, Manja Koch, Sabrina Schlesinger, Gerald Rimbach, Wolfgang Lieb








In addition to well-established risk factors like older age, female gender, and adiposity, oxidative stress may play a role in the pathophysiology of gallstone disease. Since vitamin E exerts important anti-oxidative functions, we hypothesized that circulating vitamin E levels might be inversely associated with prevalence of gallstone disease. In a cross-sectional study, we measured plasma levels of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol using high performance liquid chromatography in a community-based sample (582 individuals; median age 62 years; 38.5% women). Gallstone disease status was assessed by ultrasound. Multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models were used to estimate the association of circulating alpha- and gamma-tocopherol/cholesterol ratio levels with prevalent gallstone disease. Lower probabilities of having gallstone disease were observed in the top (compared to the bottom) tertile of the plasma alpha-tocopherol/cholesterol ratio in multivariable-adjusted models (OR (Odds Ratio): 0.31; 95% CI (Confidence Interval): 0.13-0.76). A lower probability of having gallstone disease was also observed for the gamma-tocopherol/cholesterol ratio, though the association did not reach statistical significance (OR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.35-1.69 for 3rd vs 1st tertile). In conclusion, our observations are consistent with the concept that higher vitamin E levels might protect from gallstone disease, a premise that needs to be further addressed in longitudinal studies.