Tocotrienols Abstracts 1

© 2012

Tocotrienols, the vitamin E of the 21st century: Its potential against cancer and other chronic diseases

            (Aggarwal, Sundaram et al. 2010) Download

Initially discovered in 1938 as a "fertility factor," vitamin E now refers to eight different isoforms that belong to two categories, four saturated analogues (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) called tocopherols and four unsaturated analogues referred to as tocotrienols. While the tocopherols have been investigated extensively, little is known about the tocotrienols. Very limited studies suggest that both the molecular and therapeutic targets of the tocotrienols are distinct from those of the tocopherols. For instance, suppression of inflammatory transcription factor NF-kappaB, which is closely linked to tumorigenesis and inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase, mammalian DNA polymerases and certain protein tyrosine kinases, is unique to the tocotrienols. This review examines in detail the molecular targets of the tocotrienols and their roles in cancer, bone resorption, diabetes, and cardiovascular and neurological diseases at both preclinical and clinical levels. As disappointment with the therapeutic value of the tocopherols grows, the potential of these novel vitamin E analogues awaits further investigation.

The therapeutic impacts of tocotrienols in type 2 diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia

            (Baliarsingh, Beg et al. 2005) Download

In type 2 diabetics, the progression of atherosclerosis is more rapid than the general population and 80% of these patients will die of an atherosclerotic event. Since in these patients hyperglycemia per se confers increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), the presence of even borderline-high-risk LDL-C signals the need for more aggressive LDL-lowering therapy. Most of the lipid lowering agents, currently in use in the treatment of dyslipidemia in type 2 diabetics, have a host of side effects. In contrast, dietary tocotrienols are Vitamin E and have effective lipid lowering property in addition to their potent antioxidant activity. In this study, we have investigated the therapeutic impacts of tocotrienols on serum and lipoprotein lipid levels in type 2 diabetic patients. Based on known tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF)-mediated decrease on elevated blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin A(1C) (HbA(1C)) in diabetic rats, we have also investigated the effect of TRF on these parameters. A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled design involving 19 type 2 diabetic subjects with hyperlipidemia was used. After 60 days of TRF treatment, subjects showed an average decline of 23, 30, and 42% in serum total lipids, TC, and LDL-C, respectively. The goal in type 2 diabetics is to reduce LDL-C levels < or = 100mg/dl. In the present investigation tocotrienols mediated a reduction of LDL-C from an average of 179 mg/dl to 104 mg/dl. However, hypoglycemic effect of TRF was not observed in these patients because they were glycemically stable and their glucose and HbA(1) levels were close to normal values. In conclusion, daily intake of dietary TRF by type 2 diabetics will be useful in the prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and atherogenesis.

Vitamin E in human health and disease

            (Clarke, Burnett et al. 2008) Download

Vitamin E in nature is comprised of a family of tocopherols and tocotrienols. The most studied of these is alpha-tocopherol (alpha-TOH), because this form is retained within the body, and vitamin E deficiency is corrected with this supplement. alpha-TOH is a lipid-soluble antioxidant required for the preservation of cell membranes, and it potentially acts as a defense against oxidative stress. Many studies have investigated the metabolism, transport, and efficacy alpha-TOH in the prevention of sequelae associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Supplementation with vitamin E is considered to provide health benefits against CVD through its antioxidant activity, the prevention of lipoprotein oxidation, and the inhibition of platelet aggregation. However, the results from large prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials with alpha-TOH have been largely negative. A recent meta-analysis suggests that alpha-TOH supplements may actually increase all-cause mortality; however, the mechanism for this increased risk is unknown. In vitro studies performed in human cell cultures and animal models suggest that vitamin E might increase the hepatic production of cytochrome P450s and MDR1. Induction of CYP3A4 or MDR1 by vitamin E could potentially lower the efficacy of any drug metabolized by CYP3A4 or MDR1. Other possibilities include an adverse effect of alpha-TOH on blood pressure in high-risk populations. Because of the wide popularity and use of vitamin E supplements, further research into potential adverse effects is clearly warranted.

Cardioprotection with palm oil tocotrienols: comparision of different isomers

            (Das, Lekli et al. 2008) Download

A recent study from our laboratory indicated the cardioprotective ability of the tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) from red palm oil. The present study compared cardioprotective abilities of different isomers of tocotrienol against TRF as recently tocotrienol has been found to function as a potent neuroprotective agent against stroke. Rats were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: animals were given, by gavage, either 0.35%, 1%, or 3.5% TRF for two different periods of time (2 or 4 wk) or 0.03, 0.3, and 3 mg/kg body wt of one of the isomers of tocotrienol (alpha, gamma, or delta) for 4 wk; control animals were given, by gavage, vehicle only. After 2 or 4 wk, rats were killed, and their hearts were then subjected to 30 min of global ischemia followed by 2 h of reperfusion. Dose-response and time-response experiments revealed that the optimal concentration for TRF was 3.5% TRF and 0.3 mg/kg body wt of tocotrienol given for 4 wk. TRF as well as all the isomers of tocotrienol used in our study provided cardioprotection, as evidenced by their ability to improve postischemic ventricular function and reduce myocardial infarct size. The gamma-isoform of tocotrienol was the most cardioprotective of all the isomers followed by the alpha- and delta-isoforms. The molecular mechanisms of cardioprotection afforded by tocotrienol isoforms were probed by evaluating their respective abilities to stabilize the proteasome, allowing it to maintain a balance between prodeath and prosurvival signals. Our results demonstrated that tocotrienol isoforms reduced c-Src but increased the phosphorylation of Akt, thus generating a survival signal.

Does gamma-tocopherol play a role in the primary prevention of heart disease and cancer? A review

            (Dietrich, Traber et al. 2006) Download

Vitamin E consists of a group of eight isomers, four tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-tocopherol) and four tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-tocotrienol). While extensive literature has been published on the potential health benefits of alpha-tocopherol, little is known about gamma-tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in food in the U.S. gamma-tocopherol has recently received more research attention based on findings from in vitro and animal studies indicating that it has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Based on these recent studies, it is important to investigate the possible health benefits of gamma-tocopherol in humans. In this article, we review publications on dietary gamma-tocopherol intake, plasma gamma-tocopherol levels, cardiovascular disease and cancer risk in humans.

The effect of alpha-tocopherol on monocyte proatherogenic activity

            (Jialal, Devaraj et al. 2001) Download

Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Westernized populations. The monocyte is a crucial cell in the genesis of the atherosclerotic lesion and is present during all stages of atherosclerosis. alpha-Tocopherol (AT) is the most active component of the vitamin E family and is the principal and most potent lipid-soluble antioxidant in plasma and LDL. With regard to monocyte function, AT supplementation (1200 IU/d) has been shown to decrease release of reactive oxygen species, lipid oxidation, release of cytokines such as interleukin-1ss (IL-1ss) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and decrease adhesion of monocytes to human endothelium. The mechanism of inhibition of superoxide and lipid oxidation by monocytes appears to be via inhibition of protein kinase C (PKC), the decrease in IL-1ss and TNF-alpha release by inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase and the inhibition of monocyte-endothelial cell adhesion via decrease in adhesion molecules on monocytes, CD11b and VLA-4 and by decreasing DNA-binding activity of nuclear transcription factor kappaB. Thus, in addition to the decrease in oxidative stress resulting from AT supplementation, as evidenced by decreased F(2)-isoprostanes and LDL oxidizability, AT is anti-inflammatory and exerts beneficial antiatherogenic effects on cells crucial in atherogenesis such as monocytes.

Tocotrienols reduce 25-hydroxycholesterol-induced monocyte-endothelial cell interaction by inhibiting the surface expression of adhesion molecules

            (Naito, Shimozawa et al. 2005) Download

The migration of circulating monocytes into the subendothelial space occurs through the expressing of some adhesion molecules on endothelial cells. In the present study, using human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs), we investigated whether a model compound for oxysterols, 25-hydroxycholesterol, can enhance the monocyte adherence to HAECs exposed to 25-hydroxycholesterol via increasing expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). We also aimed to determine the in vitro effects of tocotrienols on the enhanced interaction between monocytes and endothelial cells. We found that 25-hydroxycholesterol enhances surface expression determined by ELISA, induces VCAM-1 mRNA expression by real time-PCR, and stimulates adhesiveness of HAECs to U937 monocytic cells in a dose-dependent fashion. The combination treatment with anti-VCAM-1 and anti-CD11b monoclonal antibodies significantly reduced the monocyte adherence to 25-hydroxycholesterol-stimulated HAECs. Compared to alpha-tocopherol, tocotrienols displayed a more profound inhibitory effect on adhesion molecule expression and monocytic cell adherence. We observed that delta-tocotrienol exerted a most profound inhibitory action on monocytic cell adherence when compared to alpha-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-tocotrienols. Tocotrienols accumulated in HAECs to levels approximately 25-95-fold greater than that of alpha-tocopherol. In conclusion, these results indicate that a model compound 25-hydroxycholesterol can enhance the interaction between monocytes and HAECs, and that tocotrienols had a profound inhibitory effect on monocytic cell adherence to HAECs relative to alpha-tocopherol via inhibiting the VCAM-1 expression. These superior inhibitory effects of tocotrienols may be dependent on their intracellular accumulation.

Anti-inflammatory properties of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol

            (Reiter, Jiang et al. 2007) Download

Natural vitamin E consists of four different tocopherol and four different tocotrienol homologues (alpha,beta, gamma, delta) that all have antioxidant activity. However, recent data indicate that the different vitamin E homologues also have biological activity unrelated to their antioxidant activity. In this review, we discuss the anti-inflammatory properties of the two major forms of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol (alphaT) and gamma-tocopherol (gammaT), and discuss the potential molecular mechanisms involved in these effects. While both tocopherols exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in vitro and in vivo, supplementation with mixed (gammaT-enriched) tocopherols seems to be more potent than supplementation with alphaT alone. This may explain the mostly negative outcomes of the recent large-scale interventional chronic disease prevention trials with alphaT only and thus warrants further investigation.

Tocotrienol is the most effective vitamin E for reducing endothelial expression of adhesion molecules and adhesion to monocytes

            (Theriault, Chao et al. 2002) Download

Alpha-tocopherol and its esterified derivatives have been shown to be effective in reducing monocytic-endothelial cell adhesion. However, the effect of alpha-tocotrienol (alpha-T3) has not been characterized. In the present study, using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) as the model system, we examined the relative inhibitory effects of alpha-T3 and other vitamin E derivatives on cell surface adhesion molecule expression under TNF-alpha stimulation. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we demonstrated that alpha-T3 markedly inhibited the surface expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 in TNF-alpha activated HUVEC in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The optimal inhibition was observed at 25 micromol/l alpha-T3 within 24 h (77+/-5%) without cytotoxicity. In addition, the surface expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and E-selectin were also reduced by 40+/-7 and 42+/-5%, respectively. In order to further evaluate the effects of alpha-T3 on the vascular endothelium, we investigated the ability of monocytes to adhere to endothelial cells. Interestingly, a 63+/-3% decrease in monocytic cell adherence was observed. Compared to alpha-tocopherol and alpha-tocopheryl succinate, alpha-T3 displayed a more profound inhibitory effect on adhesion molecule expression and monocytic cell adherence. This inhibitory action by alpha-T3 on TNF-alpha-induced monocyte adhesion was shown to be NF-kappaB dependent and was interestingly reversed with co-incubation with farnesol and geranylgeraniol, suggesting a role for prenylated proteins in the regulation of adhesion molecule expression. In summary, the above results suggest that alpha-T3 is a potent and effective agent in the reduction of cellular adhesion molecule expression and monocytic cell adherence.

Serum and dietary vitamin E in relation to prostate cancer risk

            (Weinstein, Wright et al. 2007) Download

Alpha-tocopherol supplementation (50 mg daily for 5-8 years) reduced prostate cancer incidence by 32% in the alpha-Tocopherol, beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. We investigated whether serum alpha-tocopherol or intake of vitamin E (eight tocopherols and tocotrienols) was associated with prostate cancer risk with up to 19 years of follow-up in the alpha-Tocopherol, beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study cohort. Of the 29,133 Finnish male smokers, ages 50 to 69 years recruited into the study, 1,732 were diagnosed with incident prostate cancer between 1985 and 2004. Baseline serum alpha-tocopherol was measured by high-performance liquid chromatography and the components of vitamin E intake were estimated based on a 276-item food frequency questionnaire and food chemistry analyses. Proportional hazard models were used to determine multivariate-adjusted relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Higher serum alpha-tocopherol was associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer (RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.66-0.96 for highest versus lowest quintile; Ptrend = 0.03) and was strongly and inversely related to the risk of developing advanced disease (RR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.36-0.85; Ptrend = 0.002). The inverse serum alpha-tocopherol-prostate cancer association was greater among those who were supplemented with either alpha-tocopherol or beta-carotene during the trial. There were no associations between prostate cancer and the individual dietary tocopherols and tocotrienols. In summary, higher prediagnostic serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, but not dietary vitamin E, was associated with lower risk of developing prostate cancer, particularly advanced prostate cancer.

Molecular and cellular activities of vitamin e analogues

            (Zingg 2007) Download

Natural vitamin E comprises 8 different analogues, the alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherols and the alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienols. However, only alpha-tocopherol is selectively enriched by the liver; the other vitamin E analogues and also excess alpha-tocopherol are converted to several metabolites and eliminated. Recently, a novel phosphorylated form of tocopherol, alpha-tocopheryl phosphate, was shown to occur naturally in animal and human tissues as well as in foods. Several synthetic vitamin E derivatives have been synthesized that are either converted by esterases to the natural form, or exert novel or vitamin E related biological activities. During the last years, specific cellular effects for each individual vitamin E analogue have been described that are the consequence of modulating signal transduction and gene expression. These effects possibly reflect specific interactions of each of the vitamin E analogues with enzymes, structural proteins, lipids and transcription factors. In this review, the different natural vitamin E analogues and synthetic derivatives are compiled in relation to their major molecular and cellular activities.


Aggarwal, B. B., C. Sundaram, et al. (2010). "Tocotrienols, the vitamin E of the 21st century: Its potential against cancer and other chronic diseases." Biochem Pharmacol.

Baliarsingh, S., Z. H. Beg, et al. (2005). "The therapeutic impacts of tocotrienols in type 2 diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia." Atherosclerosis 182(2): 367-74.

Clarke, M. W., J. R. Burnett, et al. (2008). "Vitamin E in human health and disease." Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci 45(5): 417-50.

Das, S., I. Lekli, et al. (2008). "Cardioprotection with palm oil tocotrienols: comparision of different isomers." Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 294(2): H970-8.

Dietrich, M., M. G. Traber, et al. (2006). "Does gamma-tocopherol play a role in the primary prevention of heart disease and cancer? A review." J Am Coll Nutr 25(4): 292-9.

Jialal, I., S. Devaraj, et al. (2001). "The effect of alpha-tocopherol on monocyte proatherogenic activity." J Nutr 131(2): 389S-94S.

Naito, Y., M. Shimozawa, et al. (2005). "Tocotrienols reduce 25-hydroxycholesterol-induced monocyte-endothelial cell interaction by inhibiting the surface expression of adhesion molecules." Atherosclerosis 180(1): 19-25.

Reiter, E., Q. Jiang, et al. (2007). "Anti-inflammatory properties of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol." Mol Aspects Med 28(5-6): 668-91.

Theriault, A., J. T. Chao, et al. (2002). "Tocotrienol is the most effective vitamin E for reducing endothelial expression of adhesion molecules and adhesion to monocytes." Atherosclerosis 160(1): 21-30.

Weinstein, S. J., M. E. Wright, et al. (2007). "Serum and dietary vitamin E in relation to prostate cancer risk." Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 16(6): 1253-9.

Zingg, J. M. (2007). "Molecular and cellular activities of vitamin e analogues." Mini Rev Med Chem 7(5): 543-58.