Vitamin E Tocotrienols

By Dr Liji Thomas, MD

Natural vitamin E contains 8 isoforms, of which four are alpha, beta, gamma and delta-tocotrienols. They differ because of the presence or absence of a methyl (-CH3) group at the 2, 4’ and 8’ positions on the chromanol ring. Natural tocotrienols have this group in the R configuration at the 2 position, which is responsible for its biological activity.

Sources of tocotrienols

Tocotrienols are far less common in plants than tocopherols. However, vitamin E in monocot seeds and a few dicot seeds is mostly in the form of tocotrienols. The richest source of alpha-tocotrienol is the oil of the oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis, containing up to 800 mg/kg of this vitamin in the alpha and gamma isoforms. 70% of vitamin E in palm oil is in the form of tocotrienols, quite unlike other plant oils which contain exclusively tocopherols.

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Tocotrienol, the New Effective Cancer Killer

Do you know that a new type of vitamin E called TOCOTRIENOL can actually help kill cancer cells? Tocotrienol is a new generation of Vitamin E and the richest source of this new cancer killer is the annatto seed. You read it right: the Annatto seed.

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Vitamin E, γ-tocotrienol, Protects Against Buthionine Sulfoximine-Induced Cell Death by Scavenging Free Radicals in SH-SY5Y Neuroblastoma Cells.

Tan JK, Then SM, Mazlan M, Jamal R, Ngah WZ.

Nutr Cancer. 2016;68(3):507-17. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2016.1153671. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Abstract

The induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) to selectively kill cancer cells is an important feature of radiotherapy and various chemotherapies. Depletion of glutathione can induce apoptosis in cancer cells or sensitize them to anticancer treatments intended to modulate ROS levels. In contrast, antioxidants protect cancer cells from oxidative stress-induced cell death by scavenging ROS. The role of exogenous antioxidants in cancer cells under oxidative insults remains controversial and unclear. This study aimed to identify protective pathways modulated by γ-tocotrienol (γT3), an isomer of vitamin E, in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells under oxidative stress. Using buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) as an inhibitor of glutathione synthesis, we found that BSO treatment reduced the viability of SH-SY5Y cells. BSO induced cell death by increasing apoptosis, decreased the level of reduced glutathione (GSH), and increased ROS levels in SH-SY5Y cells. Addition of γT3 increased the viability of BSO-treated cells, suppressed apoptosis, and decreased the ROS level induced by BSO, while the GSH level was unaffected. These results suggest that decreasing GSH levels by BSO increased ROS levels, leading to apoptosis in SH-SY5Y cells. γT3 attenuated the BSO-induced cell death by scavenging free radicals.

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Protective effects of carnosine alone and together with alpha-tocopherol on lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plus ethanol-induced liver injury.

Kalaz EB, Aydın AF, Doğan-Ekici I, Çoban J, Doğru-Abbasoğlu S, Uysal M.

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2016 Mar;42:23-9. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2015.12.018.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of carnosine (CAR) alone and together with vitamin E (Vit E) on alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) in rats. ASH was induced by ethanol (3 times; 5 g/kg; 12 h intervals, via gavage), followed by a single dose of lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 10 mg/kg; i.p.). CAR (250 mg/kg; i.p.) and Vit E (200 mg D-α-tocopherol/kg; via gavage) were administered 30 min before and 90 min after the LPS injection. CAR treatment lowered high serum transaminase activities together with hepatic histopathologic improvements in rats with ASH. Reactive oxygen species formation, malondialdehyde levels, myeloperoxidase activities and transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) and collagen 1α1 (COL1A1) expressions were observed to decrease. These improvements were more remarkable in CAR plus Vit E-treated rats. Our results indicate that CAR may be effective in suppressing proinflammatory, prooxidant, and profibrotic factors in the liver of rats with ASH.

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Systemic administration of vitamins C and E attenuates nociception induced by chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve in rats.

Riffel AP, de Souza JA, Santos Mdo C, Horst A, Scheid T, Kolberg C, Belló-Klein A, Partata WA.

Brain Res Bull. 2016 Mar;121:169-77. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2016.02.004.

Abstract

Antioxidants have been tested to treat neuropathic pain, and α-Tocopherol (vitamin E–vit. E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C–vit. C) are potent antioxidants. We assessed the effect of intraperitoneal administration of vit. C (30 mg/kg/day) and vit. E (15 mg/kg/day), given alone or in combination, on the mechanical and thermal thresholds and the sciatic functional index (SFI) in rats with chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve. We also determined the lipid hydroperoxides and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) in the injured sciatic nerve. Further, we assessed the effects of oral administration of vit. C+vit. E (vit. C+E) and of a combination of vit. C+E and gabapentin (100mg/kg/day, i.p.) on the mechanical and thermal thresholds of CCI rats. The vitamins, whether administered orally or i.p., attenuated the reductions in the mechanical and thermal thresholds induced by CCI. The antinociceptive effect was greater with a combination of vit. C+E than with each vitamin given alone. The SFI was also improved in vitamin-treated CCI rats. Co-administration of vit. C+E and gabapentin induced a greater antinociceptive effect than gabapentin alone. No significant change occurred in TAC and lipid hydroperoxide levels, but TAC increased (45%) while lipid hydroperoxides decreased (38%) in the sciatic nerve from vit. C+E-treated CCI rats. Thus, treatment with a combination of vit. C+E was more effective to treat CCI-induced neuropathic pain than vitamins alone, and the antinociceptive effect was greater with co-administration of vit. C+E and gabapentin than with gabapentin alone.

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Vitamin E suppresses ex vivo osteoclastogenesis in ovariectomized rats.

Johnson SA, Feresin RG, Soung do Y, Elam ML, Arjmandi BH.

Food Funct. 2016 Mar;7(3):1628-33. doi: 10.1039/c5fo01066g.

Abstract

Postmenopausal osteoporosis may be caused, in part, by oxidative stress and inflammation. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and bone-protective effects. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of various doses of supplemental vitamin E on osteoclastogenesis in ovariectomized rats. Sixty 12-month-old female Sprague-Dawley rats were sham-operated (Sham) or ovariectomized (Ovx; 4 groups) and fed a diet containing basal levels of vitamin E (75 mg D-α tocopherol acetate per kg diet) for 220 days. Rats in three of the Ovx groups were given supplemental doses of vitamin E (300, 525, and 750 mg D-α tocopherol acetate per kg diet) for the last 100 days. Femoral bone marrow cells were isolated, cultured, and osteoclasts were counted and normalized to 1000 total bone marrow cells. Blood monocyte and lymphocyte counts were also determined. Osteoclast number was significantly higher in the Ovx control group and was suppressed by all three doses of vitamin E, although more effectively in the Ovx group that received 300 mg per kg diet vitamin E. Additionally, vitamin E suppressed the Ovx-induced increase in monocyte and lymphocyte production. The results of this study suggest that vitamin E supplementation suppresses osteoclastogenesis, possibly by inhibiting monocyte and lymphocyte production.

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Radioprotective Efficacy of Gamma-Tocotrienol in Nonhuman Primates.

Singh VK, Kulkarni S, Fatanmi OO, Wise SY, Newman VL, Romaine PL, Hendrickson H, Gulani J, Ghosh SP, Kumar KS, Hauer-Jensen M.

Radiat Res. 2016 Mar;185(3):285-98. doi: 10.1667/RR14127.1.

Abstract

The search for treatments to counter potentially lethal radiation-induced injury over the past several decades has led to the development of multiple classes of radiation countermeasures. However, to date only granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF; filgrastim, Neupogen)and pegylated G-CSF (pegfilgrastim, Neulasta) have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of hematopoietic acute radiation syndrome (ARS). Gamma-tocotrienol (GT3) has demonstrated strong radioprotective efficacy in the mouse model, indicating the need for further evaluation in a large animal model. In this study, we evaluated GT3 pharmacokinetics (PK) and efficacy at different doses of cobalt-60 gamma radiation (0.6 Gy/min) using the nonhuman primate (NHP) model. The PK results demonstrated increased area under the curve with increasing drug dose and half-life of GT3. GT3 treatment resulted in reduced group mean neutropenia by 3-5 days and thrombocytopenia by 1-5 days. At 5.8 and 6.5 Gy total-body irradiation, GT3 treatment completely prevented thrombocytopenia. The capability of GT3 to reduce severity and duration of neutropenia and thrombocytopenia was dose dependent; 75 mg/kg treatment was more effective than 37.5 mg/kg treatment after a 5.8 Gy dose. However, the higher GT3 dose (75 mg/kg) was associated with higher frequency of adverse skin effects (small abscess) at the injection site. GT3 treatment of irradiated NHPs caused no significant difference in animal survival at 60 days postirradiation, however, low mortality was observed in irradiated, vehicle-treated groups as well. The data from this pilot study further elucidate the role and pharmacokinetics of GT3 in hematopoietic recovery after irradiation in a NHP model, and demonstrate the potential of GT3 as a promising radioprotector.

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Tocotrienol and cancer metastasis.

De Silva L, Chuah LH, Meganathan P, Fu JY.

Biofactors. 2016 Mar-Apr;42(2):149-62. doi: 10.1002/biof.1259. Review.

Abstract

Tumor metastasis involves some of the most complex and dynamic processes in cancer, often leading to poor quality of life and inevitable death. The search for therapeutic compounds and treatment strategies to prevent and/or manage metastasis is the ultimate challenge to fight cancer. In the past two decades, research focus on vitamin E has had a shift from saturated tocopherols to unsaturated tocotrienols (T3). Despite sharing structural similarities with tocopherols, T3 strive to gain scientific prominence due to their anti-cancer effects. Recent studies have shed some light on the anti-metastatic properties of T3. In this review, the roles of T3 in each step of the metastatic process are discussed. During the invasion process, signaling pathways that regulate the extracellular matrix and tumor cell motility have been reported to be modulated by T3. Although studies on T3 and tumor cell migration are fairly limited, they were shown to play a vital role in the suppression of angiogenesis. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory effect of T3 could be highly promising in the regulation of tumor microenvironment, which is crucial in supporting tumor growth in distant organs.

Effect of vitamin E on 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol-induced necroptosis-like cell death and apoptosis.

Nakazawa T, Miyanoki Y, Urano Y, Uehara M, Saito Y, Noguchi N.

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2016 Mar 4. pii: S0960-0760(16)30049-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2016.03.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

24(S)-Hydroxycholesterol (24S-OHC) has diverse physiological and pathological functions. In particular, cytotoxic effects of 24S-OHC in neuronal cells are important in development of neurodegenerative diseases. 24S-OHC induces necroptosis-like cell death in SH-SY5Y cells expressing little caspase-8. In the present study, 24S-OHC was found to induce apoptosis as determined by caspase-3 activation in all-trans-retinoic acid (atRA)-treated SH-SY5Y cells in which expression of caspase-8 was induced. 24S-OHC-induced cell death was inhibited by α-tocopherol (α-Toc) but not by α-tocotrienol (α-Toc3) in SH-SY5Y cells regardless of whether cells were treated with atRA. In contrast, cumene hydroperoxide (CumOOH)-induced cell death was significantly inhibited by α-Toc and α-Toc3. In atRA-treated SH-SY5Y cells, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was induced by stimulation with CumOOH but was not induced by stimulation with 24S-OHC. These results suggest that inhibition of 24S-OHC-induced cell death by α-Toc cannot be explained by its radical scavenging antioxidant activity. Esterification of 24S-OHC followed by lipid droplet (LD) formation due to acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase 1 (ACAT1) are key events in 24S-OHC-induced cell death in atRA-treated SH-SY5Y cells as demonstrated by inhibition of cell death by ACAT1 inhibitor. LD number was not changed by treatment with either α-Toc or α-Toc3. The different physical properties of α-Toc and α-Toc3 may account for their different inhibitory effects on 24S-OHC-induced cell death.

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Regulation of Obesity and Metabolic Complications by Gamma and Delta Tocotrienols.

Zhao L, Fang X, Marshall MR, Chung S.

Molecules. 2016 Mar 11;21(3):344. doi: 10.3390/molecules21030344. Review.

Abstract

Tocotrienols (T3s) are a subclass of unsaturated vitamin E that have been extensively studied for their anti-proliferative, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties in numerous cancer studies. Recently, T3s have received increasing attention due to their previously unrecognized property to attenuate obesity and its associated metabolic complications. In this review, we comprehensively evaluated the recent published scientific literature about the influence of T3s on obesity, with a particular emphasis on the signaling pathways involved. T3s have been demonstrated in animal models or human subjects to reduce fat mass, body weight, plasma concentrations of free fatty acid, triglycerides and cholesterol, as well as to improve glucose and insulin tolerance. Their mechanisms of action in adipose tissue mainly include (1) modulation of fat cell adipogenesis and differentiation; (2) modulation of energy sensing; (3) induction of apoptosis in preadipocytes and (4) modulation of inflammation. Studies have also been conducted to investigate the effects of T3s on other targets, e.g., the immune system, liver, muscle, pancreas and bone. Since δT3 and γT3 are regarded as the most active isomers among T3s, their clinical relevance to reduce obesity should be investigated in human trials.

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