Selective uptake of dietary tocotrienols into rat skin

Ikeda S, Niwa T, Yamashita K.

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2000 Jun;46(3):141-3.

Using a vitamin E mixture extracted from palm oil, the tissue distribution of dietary tocotrienols and tocopherols was examined in rats and mice. Wistar rats (4-wk-old) were fed a diet containing 48.8 mg/kg alpha-tocopherol, 45.8 mg/kg alpha-tocotrienol and 71.4 mg/kg gamma-tocotrienol for 8 wk. Nude mice (BALB/c Slc-nu, 8-wk-old) and hairless mice (SKH1, 8-wk-old) were fed the same diet for 4 wk. alpha-Tocopherol was abundantly retained in the skin, liver, kidney and plasma of rats and mice. alpha-Tocotrienol and gamma-tocotrienol were detected slightly in the liver, kidney and plasma, while substantial amounts of these tocotrienols were detected in the skin of both rats and mice. The present study suggests that the skin is a unique tissue in respect to its ability to discriminate between various vitamin E analogs.

Natural vitamin E is composed of eight different vitamers (alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols and alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocotrienols). As these eight vitamers have different antioxidant and biological activities, it is necessary to have quantitative data on each substance separately. The aim of this study was to find universal HPLC columns for the separation of all eight components and to test if a few columns of the same material (different batches) will give reproducible results. Normal-phase HPLC separations of vitamin E compounds in a prepared mixture (containing oat extracts, palm oil and tocopherol standards) were tried on six silica, three amino and one diol columns. As shown by calculations of retention factors (k), separation factors (alpha), numbers of theoretical plates (N) and resolutions (Rs), the best separations were obtained on three silica columns and two amino columns using 4 or 5% dioxane in hexane as the mobile phase as well as on a diol column using 4% tert.-butyl methyl ether in hexane as the mobile phase.

To assess the efficiency of tocotrienols against oxidative damage, we have demonstrated in a model-system nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, that tocotrienol administration reduced the accumulation of protein carbonyl (a good indicator of oxidative damage during aging) and consequently extended the mean life span (LS), but not the maximum LS. Conversely, alpha-tocopherol acetate did not affect these parameters. As a way to evaluate the protective ability of tocotrienols against oxidative stress, the life spans of animals administrated tocotrienols before or after exposure to ultraviolet B-induced oxidative stress were measured. Ultraviolet B irradiation shortened the mean LS of animals, whereas preadministration of tocotrienols recovered the mean LS to that of unirradiated animals. Interestingly, postadministration also extended the mean LS more than that of unirradiated animals, and administration through the LS conferred greater protection. Thus, the administration of tocotrienols to animals results in a reduction of oxidative stress risks. These data indicated that tocotrienols merit further investigation as possible agents for antiaging and oxidative stress prevention. In addition, they suggest that C. elegans will continue to provide provocative clues into the mechanisms of aging.