Thursday, December 5, 2019

Vitamin E – First description by Herbert Mclean Evans

Originally discovered as a dietary factor essential for reproduction in rats, vitamin E has since been revealed to have many more important molecular properties, such as the scavenging of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species with consequent prevention of the oxidative damage associated with many diseases, or the modulation of signal transduction and gene expression in antioxidant and non-antioxidant manners.

Vitamin E was first described in 1922 by Herbert M Evans and Katherine Bishop. It was discovered at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1936, it was biochemically characterized and named tocopherol (Greek: “tocos” meaning offspring and “phero” meaning to bring forth). Today the term “vitamin E” encompasses a group of eight lipophilic molecules that are synthesized by plants starting from homogentisic acid. It includes four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Tocopherols and tocotrienols are subdivided into alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ), and delta (δ) forms based on the methyl and hydroxyl substitution in their phenolic rings.

Currently, synthetic forms of vitamin E consist mainly of α-tocopherol, which was first synthesized in 1938.

Herbert Mclean Evans (September 23, 1882 – March 6, 1971), anatomist, endocrinologist, and bibliophile, was born in Modesto, California. His father, Clayburn Wayne Evans, a native of Alabama, was the leading physician and surgeon in the then-small town; he is said to have been the first in the upper San Joaquin Valley to do abdominal surgery.

He attributed much of his early interest in science, literature,and history to a cultivated high school principal in his hometown and the excellent library at the school. He studied at john Hopkins University and later became professor of anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and held that position until his death.
Vitamin E – First description by Herbert Mclean Evans
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