Reactive oxygen species induce neurite degeneration before inducing cell death. However, the degenerative mechanisms have not yet been elucidated. While tocotrienols have a known neuroprotective function, the underlying mechanism remains unclear and may or may not involve antioxidant action. In this study, we hypothesize that free radical-derived membrane injury is one possible mechanism for inducing neurite degeneration. Therefore, we examined the potential neuroprotective effect of tocotrienols mediated through its antioxidant activity.
Mouse neuroblastoma neuro2a cells were used to examine the effect of the water-soluble free radical generator 2,2′-azobis(2-methylpropionamide) dihydrochloride (AAPH) on neurite dynamics. After 24 hours of AAPH treatment, cell viability, neurite number, and the number of altered neurites were measured in the presence or absence of α-tocotrienol.
Treatment of neuro2a cells with a low concentration of AAPH induces neurite degeneration, but not cell death. Treatment with 5 µM α-tocotrienol significantly inhibited neurite degeneration in AAPH-treated neuro2a cells. Furthermore, morphological changes in AAPH-treated neuro2a cells were similar to those observed with colchicine treatment.
α-Tocotrienol may scavenge AAPH-derived free radicals and alkoxyl radicals that are generated from AAPH-derived peroxyl radicals on cell membranes. Therefore, α-tocotrienol may have a neuroprotective effect mediated by its antioxidant activity.
Vitamin E includes eight natural antioxidant compounds (four tocopherols and four tocotrienols), but α-tocopherol has been the main focus of investigation in studies of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
To investigate the association between serum levels of tocopherols and tocotrienols, markers of vitamin E oxidative/nitrosative damage (α-tocopherylquinone, 5-nitro-γ-tocopherol) and incidence of cognitive impairment in a population-based study. Design A sample of 140 non-cognitively impaired elderly subjects derived from the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study was followed-up for 8years to detect cognitive impairment, defined as development of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s dementia. The association between baseline serum vitamin E and cognitive impairment was analyzed with multiple logistic regression after adjusting for several confounders.
The risk of cognitive impairment was lower in subjects in the middle tertile of the γ-tocopherol/cholesterol ratio than in those in the lowest tertile: the multiadjusted odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was 0.27 (0.10-0.78). Higher incidence of cognitive impairment was found in the middle [OR (95% CI): 3.41 (1.29-9.06)] and highest [OR (95% CI): 2.89 (1.05-7.97)] tertiles of the 5-NO2-γ-tocopherol/γ-tocopherol ratio. Analyses of absolute serum levels of vitamin E showed lower risk of cognitive impairment in subjects with higher levels of γ-tocopherol, β-tocotrienol, and total tocotrienols.
Elevated levels of tocopherol and tocotrienol forms are associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment in older adults. The association is modulated by concurrent cholesterol concentration. Various vitamin E forms might play a role in cognitive impairment, and their evaluation can provide a more accurate measure of vitamin E status in humans.
In this study, we examined whether tocotrienol (T3) reduces allergic dermatitis in mice and suppresses degranulation of mast cells. First, allergic dermatitis was examined in the atopic dermatitis model NC/Nga mouse. Allergic dermatitis was induced using picryl chloride in mice with and without administration of T3 (1 mg/day/mouse). Increases in scratching behavior, dermal thickening, and the serum histamine level were greatly reduced in mice treated with T3, indicating that T3 reduces allergic dermatitis in vivo. Next, the effect of T3 on degranulation of mast cells was examined, since these cells release bioactive substances such as histamine. T3 significantly suppressed degranulation of mast cells and significantly reduced histamine release. The effect of T3 on protein kinase C (PKC) activity was also measured, since suppression of this activity may be associated with the mechanism underlying the antidegranulation effect of T3. T3 significantly suppressed PKC activity. Therefore, we conclude that T3 suppresses degranulation of mast cells and reduces allergic dermatitis in mice through reduction of PKC activity.