The antioxidant activity of tocotrienols toward peroxyl radicals was compared with that of other natural lipid-soluble antioxidants in three different systems by measuring the temporal disappearance of antioxidants and the formation of lipid hydroperoxides. In homogeneous solution, the initial rates of consumption of the various antioxidants, assessed by competition experiments between pairs of antioxidants for radicals, decreased in the order: ubiquinol-10 approximately ubiquinol-9 > alpha-tocopherol approximately alpha-tocotrienol > beta-carotene approximately lycopene > gamma-tocopherol approximately gamma-tocotrienol. Following in vitro incubation of human plasma with alpha-tocotrienol, this form of vitamin E was present in all classes of lipoproteins isolated from the supplemented plasma. Dietary supplementation of rats and humans with a tocotrienol-rich preparation resulted in a dose-dependent appearance of alpha- and gamma-tocotrienols in plasma and all circulating lipoproteins, respectively. Exposure of such enriched rat plasma to aqueous peroxyl radicals resulted in simultaneous consumption of the alpha- and then gamma-isomers of vitamin E. The sequence of radical-induced consumption of antioxidants in freshly isolated, in vitro and in vivo tocotrienol-enriched low density lipoprotein (LDL) was again ubiquinol-10 > alpha-tocotrienol approximately alpha-tocopherol > carotenoids > gamma-tocopherol approximately gamma-tocotrienol. Under conditions where radicals were generated at constant rates, the rate of lipid hydroperoxide formation in LDL was not constant. It proceeded in at least three stages separated by the phase of ubiquinol-10 consumption and, subsequently, that of alpha-tocopherol/alpha-tocotrienol. Our results show that dietary tocotrienols become incorporated into circulating human lipoproteins where they react with peroxyl radicals as efficiently as the corresponding tocopherol isomers.
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