Vitamin E and DHA-EE on NAFLD - Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Clinical Trial (PUVENAFLD)

2019-12-19 03:04:48 | BioPortfolio


Multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial is focused on novel treatments for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common cause of chronic liver disease. The primary objective of the study is to determine the clinical efficacy and safety of Vitamin E [(all-rac)-α-tocopheryl acetate] and Omega-3 fatty acid (DHA EE) compared to placebo on reducing liver fat content in participants with NAFLD. There is currently no approved drug treatment for NAFLD or NASH. While several new targets are being evaluated, they are not sufficiently powered to provide definitive data. There is, therefore, a need for well-designed, appropriately powered efficacy (phase 2) trials to define the utility of newer therapies for NAFLD. The combination of Vitamin E and DHA may provide optimal benefit for patients with NAFLD due to their associated mechanisms of action, namely Vitamin E's antioxidant action, preventing lipid oxidation of long-chain fatty acids such as DHA and thus preventing the propagation of free radicals and ROS.


Background information

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the liver and is defined by evidence of hepatic steatosis (via imaging or histology) and is not due to secondary liver fat accumulation from excessive alcohol consumption or hereditary disorders (e.g., Wilson's disease). NAFLD is most commonly associated with metabolic syndrome, consisting of obesity, insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, and dyslipidemia. NAFLD is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease, globally with a prevalence as high as 30% in Western countries. It includes a spectrum of diseases from steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Non-alcoholic fatty liver does not involve hepatocellular injury in the form of ballooning hepatocytes, whereas NASH is defined by steatosis, inflammation, and hepatocyte injury (ballooning) with or without fibrosis. The causes of NAFLD are likely due to a combination of genetic and physiologic factors, namely those that promote oxidative stress and inflammation such as metabolic syndrome, visceral adiposity, and changes in intestinal microbiota. NAFLD is significantly associated with increased risk of Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular disease and increased overall mortality compared to age-matched controls. There is currently no approved drug treatment for NAFLD or NASH. Dietary restrictions for weight loss and increased physical activity are the recommended therapies, albeit with limited success.

Investigational products

Vitamin E [(all-rac)-α-tocopheryl acetate]

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is synthesized naturally in plants in four tocopheryl forms: α, β, γ, and δ. All-rac-α-tocopheryl acetate has the highest biological activity in animal models, and it is the α-tocopheryl form that is used to prevent and treat Vitamin E deficiency in humans. Functionally, Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant and peroxyl radical scavenger. It is an inhibitor of lipid peroxidation and can also inhibit and modulate intracellular signaling molecules, e.g., protein kinase C, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. α-tocopheryl regulates gene expression of several intracellular enzymes such as 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase and has anti-inflammatory activity (i.e., decreasing cytokine release and plasma C reactive protein). It is also known to inhibit platelet adhesion and aggregation. \

DHA Ethyl Ester

Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid for brain, eye and cardiovascular development and health. It significantly reduces triglycerides (TGs), lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of cardiac death by an overall 8%. Both DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) have anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative properties. As NAFLD patients are at significantly greater risk of cardiovascular disease and higher overall mortality, the cardioprotective effects of DHA are significant and may be beneficial in the NAFLD population.

Potential mechanisms for DHA's effects in NAFLD include the reduction of TG synthesis via activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR-α and γ), which accelerates fatty acid oxidation in liver mitochondria. DHA is also known to have an integral role in maintaining and improving cell membrane fluidity, as a fatty acid that is incorporated into the phospholipids of the membrane, thereby optimizing surface receptors and signal transduction pathways in liver cells. The anti-inflammatory role of DHA in NAFLD may be mediated through activation of adiponectin secretion through adults with NAFLD. MRI-PDFF is also an appropriate technique to diagnose and stage disease in those with metabolic syndrome and NAFLD. The clinical trial is designed to test the combination of Vitamin E and DHA against placebo, to demonstrate efficacy and safety.

Rationale for conducting the clinical study

The combination of Vitamin E and DHA has not been tested in previous clinical trials of adults with NAFLD. This combination may provide optimal benefit for patients with NAFLD due to their associated mechanisms of action, namely Vitamin E's antioxidant action, preventing lipid oxidation of long-chain fatty acids such as DHA and thus preventing the propagation of free radicals and ROS. Vitamin E's protection of LC-PUFA DHA, therefore, assists it in maintaining cell membrane stability and optimal signaling. Their combined anti-inflammatory effects (e.g., inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines, increasing adiponectin, and producing docosanoids to resolve inflammation) may also be efficacious for those with metabolic syndrome and NAFLD. The combination of Vitamin E and DHA will correctly be used in this study to determine if a reduction in liver fat occurs after six months of co-administration, using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, proton density fat fraction (PDFF). PDFF imaging is non-invasive and highly sensitive to detect liver steatosis in patients with NAFLD.

Study Design


Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease


Vitamin E [(all-rac)-α-tocopheryl acetate], Omega-3 fatty acid (DHA EE), Omega-3 fatty acid (DHA EE) & Vitamin E [(all-rac)-α-tocopheryl acetate], Placebo


Arkansas Gastroenterology
North Little Rock
United States




Indiana University

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-12-19T03:04:48-0500

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