Vitamin E: Non-antioxidant roles

Azzi A, Stocker A.

Prog Lipid Res. 2000 May;39(3):231-55.

Vitamin E was originally considered a dietary factor of animal nutrition especially important for normal reproduction. The significance of vitamin E has been subsequently proven as a radical chain breaking antioxidant that can protect the integrity of tissues and play an important role in life processes. More recently alpha-tocopherol has been found to possess functions that are independent of its antioxidant/radical scavenging ability. Absorption in the body is alpha-tocopherol selective and other tocopherols are not absorbed or are absorbed to a lesser extent. Furthermore, pro-oxidant effects have been attributed to tocopherols as well as an anti-nitrating action. Non-antioxidant and non-pro-oxidant molecular mechanisms of tocopherols have been also described that are produced by alpha-tocopherol and not by beta-tocopherol. alpha-Tocopherol specific inhibitory effects have been seen on protein kinase C, on the growth of certain cells and on the transcription of some genes (CD36, and collagenase). Activation events have been seen on the protein phosphatase PP2A and on the expression of other genes (alpha-tropomyosin and Connective Tissue Growth Factor). Non-antioxidant molecular mechanisms have been also described for gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol and tocotrienols.

A precise and selective liquid chromatographic procedure for determining tocopherol and tocotrienol isomers in vegetable oils, formulated preparations, and biscuits was developed and validated. The proposed method quantitates vitamin E in better conditions of recoverability and reproducibility than the standard saponification procedure. Tocopherols and tocotrienols were extracted in hexane from vegetable oils, passed through a silica Sep-pak, chromatographed on a mu-Bondapak C18 column with a mobile phase of methanol-water (95 + 5, v/v), identified at 292 nm, and detected with fluorescence procedure (excitation 296 nm, and emission 330 nm). The correlation coefficient on the calibration curve was 0.9995 over the range of 0.1 to 100 microg/mL. Overall recovery of vitamin E isomers was 93%; coefficients of variation for intra- and interday precision, < 2.25%. The results obtained from extraction methods 1 (with saponification) and 2 (without saponification) were compared by ANOVA test. Significant differences appeared between vitamin E isomers (p < or = 0.05).