Pivotal role in atherogenesis is played by macrophages, which are early site for lipid accumulation and mediate the inflammatory and immune response in the intima. Epidemiological evidence indicates that natural antioxidants reduce the risk of heart disease, but, so far, supplementation studies have failed to confirm any protective effects of these compounds against cardiovascular disease. This study evaluated the effects of the natural antioxidant alpha-tocotrienol and of the newly designed compound, FeAOX-6, which combines antioxidant structural features of both tocopherols and carotenoids into a single molecule, on macrophage functions involved in foam cell formation. FeAOX-6 or alpha-tocotrienol induce a strong dose-dependent reduction of cholesterol and reduce cholesterol accumulation in human macrophages. The extent of the reduction found with alpha-tocotrienol was greater than that induced by FeAOX-6 and did not correlate with their respective antioxidant capacities. Treatment of HMDM with alpha-tocotrienol or FeAOX-6 enhanced also tumor necrosis factor-alpha secretion. These results are consistent with a reduction in scavenger receptor activity, but we found that antioxidant treatment did not affect cholesterol uptake from modified LDL. The effects on release on pro-inflammatory prostanoid precursors, PGE(2) and cytokine suggest a variety of metabolic responses that are both dependent on antioxidant compounds and macrophages activation status.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Selective removal of activated pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) through induction of their own programmed death is a goal of therapeutic interest in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Here, we investigated the effects of tocotrienols on PSC death outcomes.
METHODS: Activated and quiescent PSCs and acinar cells from rat pancreas were treated with vitamin E derivatives alpha-tocopherol; individual alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienols; and a tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF) from palm oil.
RESULTS: TRF, but not alpha-tocopherol, reduced viability of activated PSC by setting up a full death program, independent of cell cycle regulation. Activated PSCs died both through apoptosis, as indicated by increased DNA fragmentation and caspase activation, and through autophagy, as denoted by the formation of autophagic vacuoles and LC3-II accumulation. In contrast to alpha-tocopherol, TRF caused an intense and sustained mitochondrial membrane depolarization and extensive cytochrome c release. Caspase inhibition with zVAD-fmk suppressed TRF-induced apoptosis but enhanced autophagy. However, mitochondrial permeability transition pore blockade with cyclosporin A completely abolished the deadly effects of TRF. beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol, but not alpha-tocotrienol nor alpha-tocopherol, reproduced TRF actions on activated PSCs. TRF death induction was restricted to activated PSCs because it did not cause apoptosis either in quiescent PSCs or in acinar cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Tocotrienols selectively trigger activated pancreatic stellate cell death by targeting the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Our findings unveil a novel potential for tocotrienols to ameliorate the fibrogenesis associated with chronic pancreatitis.