The anticancer efficacy of tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) was evaluated during diethylnitrosamine (DEN)/2-acetylaminofluorene (AAF)-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in male Sprague-Dawley rats. TRF treatment was carried out for 6 months, and was started 2 weeks before initiation phase of hepatocarcinogenesis. Morphological examination of the livers from DEN/AAF rats showed numerous off-white patches and few small nodules, which were significantly reduced by TRF treatment. Cytotoxic damage by DEN/AAF was estimated by alkaline phosphatase (ALP) release into the plasma from the cell membranes. DEN/AAF caused a twofold increase in the activity of ALP in plasma as compared with normal control rats, and this increase was prevented significantly by TRF treatment. We observed an increase of 79% in liver ALP activity in DEN/AAF rats, which was further increased by another 48% after the administration of TRF. Hepatic activity of glutathione S-transferase (GST) was also increased (3.5-fold) during the induction of hepatic carcinogenesis. Lipid peroxidation and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation increased threefold following initiation by DEN/AAF as compared with normal control rats. However, TRF treatment to DEN/AAF-treated rats substantially decreased (62-66%) the above parameters and thus limited the action of DEN/AAF. We conclude that long-term intake of TRF could reduce cancer risk by preventing hepatic lipid peroxidation and protein oxidation damage due to its antioxidant actions.
Vitamin E is a term that describes a group of compounds with similar yet unique chemical structures and biological activities. One interesting property possessed by certain vitamin E compounds-namely, delta-tocotrienol, RRR-alpha-tocopheryl succinate [vitamin E succinate (VES), a hydrolyzable ester-linked succinic acid analogue of RRR-alpha-tocopherol], and a novel vitamin E analogue referred to as alpha-TEA (alpha-tocopherol ether linked acetic acid analogue, which is a stable nonhydrolyzable analogue of RRR-alpha-tocopherol)-is their ability to induce cancer cells but not normal cells to undergo a form of cell death called apoptosis. In contrast, the parent compound, RRR-alpha-tocopherol, also referred to as natural or authentic vitamin E and known for its antioxidant properties, does not induce cancer-cell apoptosis. Efforts to understand how select vitamin E forms can induce cancer cells to undergo apoptosis have identified several nonantioxidant biological functions, including restoration of pro-death transforming growth factor-beta and Fas signaling pathways. Recent studies with alpha-TEA show it to be a potent inducer of apoptosis in a wide variety of epithelial cancer cell types, including breast, prostate, lung, colon, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial in cell culture, and to be effective in significantly reducing tumor burden and metastasis in a syngeneic mouse mammary tumor model, as well as xenografts of human breast cancer cells. Studies also show that alpha-TEA, in combination with the cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor celecoxib and the chemotherapeutic drug 9-nitro-camptothecin decreases breast cancer animal model tumor burden and inhibits metastasis significantly better than do single-agent treatments.
Some 80 years after its discovery, vitamin E has experienced a renaissance which is as surprising as it is trivial. Although vitamin E is essential for reproduction, in rats at least, and deficiency causes neurological disorders in humans, the main interest in the last decades has concentrated on its antioxidant functions. This focus has highly underestimated the biological importance of vitamin E, which by far exceeds the need for acting as a radical scavenger. Only recently has it become clear that vitamin E can regulate cellular signaling and gene expression. Out of the eight different tocols included in the term vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol often exerts specific functions, which is also reflected in its selective recognition by proteins such as the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein and alpha-tocopherol-associated proteins. Vitamin E forms other than alpha-tocopherol are very actively metabolised, which explains their low biopotency. In vivo, metabolism may also attenuate the novel functions of gamma-tocopherol and tocotrienolsobserved in vitro. On the other hand, metabolites derived from individual forms of vitamin E have been shown to exert effects by themselves. This article focuses on the metabolism and novel functions of vitamin E with special emphasis on differential biological activities of individual vitamin E forms.
Tocopherols are known to undergo metabolism to phytyl chain-shortened metabolites excreted in urine. We sought to characterize the pathway, including associated enzymes, involved in this biotransformation. We previously found that human hepatoblastoma (HepG2) cultures metabolized tocopherols to their corresponding short-chain carboxychromanols. Putative metabolites of gamma-tocopherol that contained intact chromanol moieties were structurally identified using HepG2 cultures and electron impact gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A microsomal assay for synthesis of the initial omega-oxidation metabolites was developed and used to screen several recombinant human liver cytochrome P450 isozymes for omega-hydroxylase activity. Seven metabolites of gamma-tocopherol were identified in HepG2 cultures, including 13′-hydroxy-gamma-TOH and all six carboxychromanols predicted by sequential omega-oxidation truncation. Rat and human liver microsomes catalyzed synthesis of 13′-OH- and 13′-COOH-gamma-TOH, but not other metabolites, in the presence of NADPH. Inclusion of NAD favored synthesis of the 13′-COOH metabolite. Recombinant CYP4F2, but not other major human liver CYP isoforms (including CYP3A4 and 3A7), exhibited tocopherol-omega-hydroxylase activity. Liver microsomes and recombinant CYP4F2 both exhibited substrate preference for gamma-TOH over alpha-TOH, and recent studies show thattocotrienols are catabolized more extensively than the corresponding tocopherols. Comparative rates of omega-oxidation of tocochromanols in hepatocytes are inversely related to biopotency and directly related to cytotoxicity of these substances in macrophages. The liver contains a cytochrome P450-mediated pathway that preferentially catabolizes “non-alpha” tocochromanols to excretable metabolites. This metabolic pathway appears central to the optimization of tissue tocochromanol status.
Vitamin E is the most important lipid-soluble antioxidant in humans. Specific tocopherol-binding proteins favor the retention of the most potent vitamin E homologue, RRR-alpha-tocopherol (RRR-alpha-T) in man. The crystal structures of both the ligand-charged and the apo-forms of human alpha-tocopherol transfer protein (alpha-TTP) and of human supernatant protein factor (SPF) have been solved. The renewed interest in the biological function of tocopherol binders is based on the discovery of ataxia with vitamin E deficiency, a neurological disorder that is caused by genetic defects of the alpha-TTP gene and/or vitamin E deficiency. The analysis of the crystal structure of alpha-TTP provides the molecular basis of vitamin E retention in man. SPF has been reported to enhance cholesterol biosynthesis by facilitating the conversion of squalene to lanosterol. Nevertheless, the physiological role of SPF as well as its ligand specificity is not known. Investigations on the substrate specificity of SPF have uncovered binding of RRR-alpha-tocopherylquinone (RRR-alpha-TQ). RRR-alpha-TQ represents the major physiological oxidation product of RRR-alpha-T. The three-dimensional overlay of the ligand-charged structures of SPF and alpha-TTP indicates that ligand specificity in both proteins is mostly modulated by side-chain variations rather than by the backbone. Recent reports point towards the in vivo reduction of RRR-alpha-TQ to RRR-alpha-TQH(2) and its protective role in low-density lipoprotein oxidation. On the basis of these reports, it is proposed that SPF may enhance cholesterol biosynthesis indirectly by mediating the transfer of RRR-alpha-TQ to low-density lipoprotein, thus reducing oxidation of low-density lipoprotein and its subsequent cellular uptake by scavenger receptors.
Vitamin E is essential for normal neurological function. It is the major lipid-soluble, chain-breaking antioxidant in the body, protecting the integrity of membranes by inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Mostly on the basis of symptoms of primary vitamin E deficiency, it has been demonstrated that vitamin E has a central role in maintaining neurological structure and function. Orally supplemented vitamin E reaches the cerebrospinal fluid and brain. Vitamin E is a generic term for all tocopherols and their derivatives having the biological activity of RRR-alpha-tocopherol, the naturally occurring stereoisomer compounds with vitamin E activity. In nature, eight substances have been found to have vitamin E activity: alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol; and alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocotrienol. Often, the term vitamin E is synonymously used with alpha-tocopherol. Tocotrienols, formerly known as zeta, , or eta-tocopherols, are similar to tocopherols except that they have an isoprenoid tail with three unsaturation points instead of a saturated phytyl tail. Although tocopherols are predominantly found in corn, soybean, and olive oils, tocotrienols are particularly rich in palm, rice bran, and barley oils. Tocotrienols possess powerful antioxidant, anticancer, and cholesterol-lowering properties. Recently, we have observed that alpha-tocotrienol is multi-fold more potent than alpha-tocopherol in protecting HT4 and primary neuronal cells against toxicity induced by glutamate as well as by a number of other toxins. At nanomolar concentration, tocotrienol, but not tocopherol, completely protected neurons by an antioxidant-independent mechanism. Our current work identifies two major targets of tocotrienol in the neuron: c-Src kinase and 12-lipoxygenase. Dietary supplementation studies have established that tocotrienol, fed orally, does reach the brain. The current findings point towards tocotrienol as a potent neuroprotective form of natural vitamin E.
Vitamin E is important not only for its cellular antioxidant and lipid-lowering properties, but also as an antiproliferating agent. It has also been shown to contribute to immunoregulation, antibody production, and resistance to implanted tumors. It has recently been shown that tocotrienols are the components of vitamin E responsible for growth inhibition in human breast cancer cells in vitro as well as in vivo through estrogen-independent mechanisms. Although tocotrienols act on cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner and can induce programmed cell death, no specific gene regulation has yet been identified. In order to investigate the molecular basis of the effect of a tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) from palm oil, we performed a cDNA array analysis of cancer-related gene expression in estrogen-dependent (MCF-7) and estrogen-independent (MDA-MB-231) human breast cancer cells. The human breast cancer cells were incubated with or without 8 mug/mL of tocotrienols for 72 h. RNA was subsequently extracted and subjected to reverse transcription before being hybridized onto cancer arrays. Tocotrienol supplementation modulated significantly 46 out of 1200 genes in MDA-MB-231 cells. In MCF-7 cells, tocotrienol administration was associated with a lower number of affected genes. Interestingly, only three were affected in a similar fashion in both cell lines: c-myc binding protein MM-1, 23-kDa highly basic protein, and interferon-inducible protein 9-27 (IFITM-1). These proteins are most likely involved in the cell cycle and can exert inhibitory effects on cell growth and differentiation of the tumor cell lines. These data suggest that tocotrienols are able to affect cell homeostasis, possibly independent of their antioxidant activity.
In this study, we evaluated the antiproliferative effect of tocotrienols (T3) and the presence of a specific vitamin E metabolism in PC3 and LNCaP prostate cancer cells. These cell lines are able to transform tocopherols (T) and T3 in the corresponding carboxyethyl-hydroxychromans metabolites (CEHCs). The extent of this metabolism and the inhibitory effect on cell growth followed the order of magnitude alpha-T<alpha-T3<gamma-T<gamma-T3. The partial inhibition of gamma-T3 metabolism by ketoconazole did not influence cell proliferation. These early findings may suggest that the transformation of vitamin E to CEHC is mostly a detoxification mechanism useful to maintain the malignant properties of prostate cancer cells.
We investigated the antiangiogenic property and mechanism of vitamin E compounds, with particular emphasis on tocotrienol (T3), a natural analogue of tocopherol (Toc). T3 inhibited both the proliferation and tube formation of bovine aortic endothelial cells, with delta-T3 appearing to have the highest activity. delta-T3 also reduced the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-stimulated tube formation by human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Moreover, delta-T3 inhibited the new blood vessel formation on the growing chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (assay for in vivo angiogenesis). Orally administered T3 suppressed the tumor cell-induced angiogenesis in the mouse dorsal air sac assay. In contrast with T3, Toc showed very weak inhibition. Based on DNA microarray analysis, antiangiogenic effect of T3 was attributable in part to regulation of intracellular VEGF signaling (phospholipase C-gamma and protein kinase C). Our findings suggest that T3 has potential as a therapeutic dietary supplement for preventing angiogenic disorders.