The Role of Vitamin E in Thermal Burn Injuries, Infection, and Sepsis: A Review

Marc A Thompson, Kameel Zuniga, Linda Sousse, Robert Christy, Jennifer Gurney


Thermal burn injuries are still a serious public health concern in the United States, due to the initial insult and resulting co-morbidities. Burned patients are increasingly susceptible to colonization by endogenous and exogenous micro-organisms after having lost skin, which acts as the primary protective barrier to environmental contaminants. Furthermore, the onset of additional pathophysiologies, specifically sepsis, becomes more likely in burned patients compared to other injuries. Despite improvements in the early care of burn patients, infections, and sepsis, these pathophysiologies remain major causes of morbidity and mortality and warrant further investigation of potential therapies. Vitamin E may be one such therapy. We aimed to identify publications of studies that evaluated the effectiveness of vitamin E as it pertains to thermal burn injuries, infection, and sepsis. Several investigations ranging from in vitro bench work to clinical studies have examined the impact on, or influence of, vitamin E in vitro, in vivo, and in the clinical setting. To the benefit of subjects it has been shown that enteral or parenteral vitamin E supplementation can prevent, mitigate, and even reverse the effects of thermal burn injuries, infection, and sepsis. Therefore, a large scale prospective observational study to assess the potential benefits of vitamin E supplementation in patients is warranted and could result in clinical care practice paradigm changes.

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