Induction of apoptosis in human breast cancer cells by tocopherols and tocotrienols

Yu W, Simmons-Menchaca M, Gapor A, Sanders BG, Kline K.

Nutr Cancer. 1999;33(1):26-32.

The apoptosis-inducing properties of RRR-alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherols, alpha-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienols, RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E acetate), and RRR-alpha-tocopheryl succinate (vitamin E succinate) were investigated in estrogen-responsive MCF7 and estrogen-nonresponsive MDA-MB-435 human breast cancer cell lines in culture. Apoptosis was characterized by two criteria: 1) morphology of 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole-stained cells and oligonucleosomal DNA laddering. Vitamin E succinate, a known inducer of apoptosis in several cell lines, including human breast cancer cells, served as a positive control. The estrogen-responsive MCF7 cells were more susceptible than the estrogen-nonresponsive MDA-MB-435 cells, with concentrations for half-maximal response for tocotrienols (alpha, gamma, and delta) and RRR-delta-tocopherol of 14, 15, 7, and 97 micrograms/ml, respectively. The tocotrienols (alpha, gamma, and delta) and RRR-delta-tocopherol induced MDA-MB-435 cells to undergo apoptosis, with concentrations for half-maximal response of 176, 28, 13, and 145 micrograms/ml, respectively. With the exception of RRR-delta-tocopherol, the tocopherols (alpha, beta, and gamma) and the acetate derivative of RRR-alpha-tocopherol (RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) were ineffective in induction of apoptosis in both cell lines when tested within the range of their solubility, i.e., 10-200 micrograms/ml. In summary, these studies demonstrate that naturally occurring tocotrienols and RRR-delta-tocopherol are effective apoptotic inducers for human breast cancer cells.

Effect of gamma-tocotrienol on blood pressure, lipid peroxidation and total antioxidant status in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR)

Newaz MA, Nawal NN.

Clin Exp Hypertens. 1999 Nov;21(8):1297-313.

The aim of this study was to determine the effects of gamma tocotrienol on lipid peroxidation and total antioxidant status of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), comparing them with normal Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats. SHR were divided into three groups and treated with different doses of gamma tocotrienol (gamma1, 15 mg/kg diet; gamma2, 30 mg/kg diet and gamma3, 150 mg/kg diet). Normal WKY and untreated SHR were used as normal (N) and hypertensive control (HC). Blood pressure were recorded every fortnightly for three months. At the end of the trial, animals were killed and measurement of plasma total antioxidant status, plasma superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and lipid peroxide levels in plasma and blood vessels were carried out following well established methods. Study shows that lipid peroxides were significantly higher in hypertensive plasma and blood vessels compared to that of normal rats (Plasma- N: 0.06+/-0.01, HC: 0.13+/-0.008; p<0.001, B1. Vessels – N: 0.47+/-0.17, HC: 0.96+/-0.37; p<0.001). SOD activity was significantly lower in hypertensive than normal rats (N = 148.58+/-29.56 U/ml, HC = 110.08+/-14.36 U/ml; p = 0.014). After three months of antioxidant trial with gamma-tocotrienol, it was found that all the treated groups have reduced plasma lipid peroxides concentration but was only significant for group gamma1 (gamma1: 0.109+/-0.026, HC: 0.132+/-0.008; p = 0.034). On the other hand, lipid peroxides in blood vessels reduced significantly in all treated groups (gamma1; p<0.05, gamma2; p<0.001, gamma3; p<0.005). All the three treated groups showed improve total antioxidant status (p<0.001) significantly. SOD activity also showed significant improvement in all groups (gamma1: p<0.001, gamma2: p<0.05, gamma3: p<0.001). Correlation studies showed that, total antioxidant status (TAS) and SOD were significantly negatively correlated with blood pressure in normal rats (p = 0.007; p = 0.008) but not in SHR control. This correlation regained in all three groups SHR’s after treatment with tocotrienol. Lipid peroxides in blood vessel and plasma showed a positive correlation with blood pressure in normal and SHR control. This correlation also remains in treated groups significantly except that in gamma3 where positive correlation with plasma lipid peroxide was not significant. In conclusion it was found that antioxidant supplement of gamma-tocotrienol may prevent development of increased blood pressure, reduce lipid peroxides in plasma and blood vessels and enhanced total antioxidant status including SOD activity.

This article reviews compounds of botanical origin which are capable of lowering plasma levels of glucose and cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as compounds inhibiting atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Hypoglycemic natural products comprise flavonoids, xanthones, triterpenoids, alkaloids, glycosides, alkyldisulfides, aminobutyric acid derivatives, guanidine, polysaccharides and peptides. Hypotensive compounds include flavonoids, diterpenes, alkaloids, glycosides, polysaccharides and proteins. Among natural products with hypocholesterolemic activity are beta-carotene, lycopene, cycloartenol, beta-sitosterol, sitostanol, saponin, soybean protein, indoles, dietary fiber, propionate, mevinolin (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor) and polysaccharides. Heparins, flavonoids, tocotrienols, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins), garlic compounds and fungal proteases exert antithrombotic action. Statins and garlic compounds also possess antiatherosclerotic activity.