Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of tocopherols and tocotrienols on preneoplastic and neoplastic mouse mammary epithelial cells

McIntyre BS, Briski KP, Gapor A, Sylvester PW.

Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000 Sep;224(4):292-301.

Studies were conducted to determine the comparative effects of tocopherols and tocotrienols on preneoplastic (CL-S1), neoplastic (-SA), and highly malignant (+SA) mouse mammary epithelial cell growth and viability in vitro. Over a 5-day culture period, treatment with 0-120 microM alpha- and gamma-tocopherol had no effect on cell proliferation, whereas growth was inhibited 50% (IC50) as compared with controls by treatment with the following: 13, 7, and 6 microM tocotrienol-rich-fraction of palm oil (TRF); 55, 47, and 23 microM delta-tocopherol; 12, 7, and 5 microM alpha-tocotrienol; 8, 5, and 4 microM gamma-tocotrienol; or 7, 4, and 3 microM delta-tocotrienol in CL-S1, -SA and +SA cells, respectively. Acute 24-hr exposure to 0-250 microM alpha- or gamma-tocopherol (CL-S1, -SA, and +SA) or 0-250 microM delta-tocopherol (CL-S1) had no effect on cell viability, whereas cell viability was reduced 50% (LD50) as compared with controls by treatment with 166 or 125 microM delta-tocopherol in -SA and +SA cells, respectively. Additional LD50 doses were determined as the following: 50, 43, and 38 microM TRF; 27, 28, and 23 microM alpha-tocotrienol; 19, 17, and 14 microM gamma-tocotrienol; or 16, 15, or 12 microM delta-tocotrienol in CL-S1, -SA, and +SA cells, respectively. Treatment-induced cell death resulted from activation of apoptosis, as indicated by DNA fragmentation. Results also showed that CL-S1, -SA, and +SA cells preferentially accumulate tocotrienols as compared with tocopherols, and this may partially explain why tocotrienols display greater biopotency than tocopherols. These data also showed that highly malignant +SA cells were the most sensitive, whereas the preneoplastic CL-S1 cells were the least sensitive to the antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of tocotrienols, and suggest that tocotrienols may have potential health benefits in preventing and/or reducing the risk of breast cancer in women.