Effect of either gamma-tocotrienol or a tocotrienol mixture on the plasma lipid profile in hamsters

Raederstorff D, Elste V, Aebischer C, Weber P.

Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(1):17-23.

Background/Aims: Tocotrienols has been shown to inhibit the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase activity; however, the published animal and human studies yield conflicting results. We investigated the effects of a 4-week dietary supplement of either gamma-tocotrienol (86% gamma-T3) or a mixture of tocotrienols (29.5% alpha-T3, 3.3% beta-T3, 41.4% gamma-T3, 0.1% delta-T3: mix-T3) on the plasma lipid profile in hamsters receiving a high fat diet.

Methods: The hamsters were randomized into 7 groups: no treatment, 16 mg/day/kg BW simvastatin, 23, 58, 263 mg/day/kg BW gamma-tocotrienol, and 39 or 263 mg/day/kg BW for the mixture of tocotrienols. Plasma lipid levels were measured after 2 and 4 weeks of treatment.

Results: In all groups treated with tocotrienol total cholesterol levels were decreased, ranging from 7 to 23% after 2 weeks of treatment and from 7 to 15% after 4 weeks. Low-density lipoprotein plasma levels changed accordingly: a decline of 6-37% after 2 weeks and of 12-32% at the end of the study was observed. After 4 weeks of treatment, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein plasma levels were significantly reduced in the 263 mg/day/kg BW mixed tocotrienols and the 58 mg/day/kg BW and 263 mg/day/kg BW gamma-tocotrienol groups when compared to the no treatment group. Plasma triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein levels did not change significantly.

Conclusion: This study provides further evidence that tocotrienols lower total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein plasma levels in hamsters and that gamma-tocotrienol is a more potent agent than a mixture of tocotrienols.

In this study the effects of vitamin E deficiency and supplementation on bone calcification were determined using 4-month-old female Sprague-Dawley rats. The rats weighed between 180 and 200 g. The study was divided in three parts. In experiment I the rats were given normal rat chow (RC, control group), a vitamin E deficient (VED) diet or a 50% vitamin E deficient (50%VED) diet. In experiment 2 the rats were given VED supplemented with 30 mg/kg palm vitamin E (PVE30), 60 mg/kg palm vitamin E (PVE60) or 30 mg/kg pure alpha-tocopherol (ATF). In experiment 3 the rats were fed RC and given the same supplements as in experiment 2. The treatment lasted 8 months. Vitamin E derived from palm oil contained a mixture of ATF andtocotrienols. Rats on the VED and 50%VED diets had lower bone calcium content in the left femur compared to the RC group (91.6 +/- 13.3 mg and 118.3 +/- 26.0 mg cf 165.7 +/- 15.2 mg; P < 0.05) and L5 vertebra (28.3 +/- 4.0 mg and 39.5 +/- 6.2 mg compared with 51.4 +/- 5.8 mg; P < 0.05). Supplementing the VED group with PVE60 improved bone calcification in the left femur (133.6 +/- 5.0 mg compared with 91.6 +/- 13.3 mg; P < 0.05) and L5 vertebra (41.3 +/- 3.3 mg compared with 28.3 +/- 4.0 mg; P < 0.05) while supplementation with PVE30 improved bone calcium content in the L5 vertebra (35.6 +/- 3.1 mg compared with 28.3 +/- 4.0 mg; P < 0.05). However, supplementation with ATF did not change the lumbar and femoral bone calcium content compared to the VED group. Supplementing the RC group with PVE30, PVE60 or ATF did not cause any significant changes in bone calcium content. In conclusion, vitamin E deficiency impaired bone calcification. Supplementation with the higher dose of palm vitamin E improved bone calcium content, but supplementation with pure ATF alone did not. This effect may be attributed to the tocotrienol content of palm vitamin E. Therefore, tocotrienols play an important role in bone calcification.

Cardiovascular disease, in particular coronary artery disease (CAD), remains the most important cause of morbidity and mortality in developed countries and, in the near future, more so in the developing world. Atherosclerotic plaque formation is the underlying basis for CAD. Growth of the plaque leads to coronary stenosis, causing a progressive decrease in blood flow that results in angina pectoris. Acute myocardial infarction and unstable angina were recently recognised as related to plaque rupture, not progressive coronary stenosis. Acute thrombus formation causes an abrupt coronary occlusion. The characteristics of the fibrin cap, contents of the plaque, rheological factors and active inflammation within the plaque contribute to plaque rupture. Oxidative processes are important in plaque formation. Oxidized low density lipoproteins (LDL) but not unoxidized LDL is engulfed by resident intimal macrophages, transforming them into foam cells which develop into fatty streaks, the precursors of the atherosclerotic plaque. Inflammation is important both in plaque formation and rupture. Animal studies have shown that antioxidants reduce plaque formation and lead to plaque stabilisation. In humans, high intakes of antioxidants are associated with lower incidence of CAD, despite high serum cholesterol levels. This observation suggests a role for inflammation in CAD and that reducing inflammation using antioxidants may ameliorate these processes. Men and women with high intakes of vitamin E were found to have less CAD. Vitamin E supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events in the incidence of recurrent myocardial infarction. In the hierarchy of evidence in evidence-based medicine, data from large placebo-controlled clinical trials is considered necessary. Results from various mega-trials have not shown benefits (nor adverse effects) conferred by vitamin E supplementation, suggesting that vitamin E has no role in the treatment of CAD. These results do not seem to confirm, at the clinical level, the effect of antioxidants against active inflammation during plaque rupture. However, a closer examination of these studies showed a number of limitations, rendering them inconclusive in addressing the role of vitamin E in CAD prevention and treatment. Further studies that specifically address the issue of vitamin E in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and in the treatment of CAD need be performed. These studies should use the more potent antioxidant property of alpha-tocotrienol vitamin E.

Role of GTP-binding proteins in reversing the antiproliferative effects of tocotrienols in preneoplastic mammary epithelial cells

Sylvester PW, Nachnani A, Shah S, Briski KP.

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2002;11 Suppl 7:S452-9.

Tocotrienols are a subclass of vitamin E compounds that display potent anticancer activity. Determining the anticancer mechanism of action oftocotrienols will provide essential information necessary for understanding the potential health benefits of these compounds in reducing the risk of breast cancer in women. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a potent mitogen for normal and neoplastic mammary epithelial cells. Initial events in EGF-receptor (EGF-R) mitogenic-signalling are G-protein activation, stimulation of adenylyl cyclase and cyclic AMP (cAMP) production. Studies were conducted to determine if the antiproliferative effects of tocotrienols are associated with reduced EGF-induced G-protein and cAMP-dependent mitogenic signalling. Preneoplastic CL-S1 mouse mammary epithelial cells were grown in culture and maintained on serum-free media containing 0-25 micro mol/L tocotrienol-rich fraction of palm oil and/or different doses of pharmacological agents that alter intracellular cAMP levels. Tocotrienol-induced effects on EGF-receptor levels of tyrosine kinase activity, as well as EGF-dependent mitogen-activated pathway kinase (MAPK) and Akt activation, were determined by western blot analysis. Results demonstrate that the antiproliferative effects of tocotrienols in preneoplastic mammary epithelial cells do not reflect a reduction in EGF-receptor mitogenic responsiveness, but rather, result from an inhibition in early post-receptor events involved in cAMP production upstream from EGF-dependent MAPK and phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt mitogenic signalling. In summary, these data further characterise the mechanism of action of tocotrienols in suppressing preneoplastic mammary epithelial cell proliferation, and advance the current understanding of the potential health benefits of these compounds in reducing the risk of breast cancer in women.

Vitamin E, the most important lipid-soluble antioxidant, was discovered at the University of California at Berkeley in 1922. Since its discovery, studies of the constituent tocopherols and tocotrienols have focused mainly on their antioxidant properties. In 1991 Angelo Azzi’s group (Boscoboinik et al. 1991a,b) first described non-antioxidant cell signalling functions for alpha-tocopherol, demonstrating that vitamin E regulates protein kinase C activity in smooth muscle cells. At the transcriptional level, alpha-tocopherol modulates the expression of the hepatic alpha-tocopherol transfer protein, as well as the expression of liver collagen alphal gene, collagenase gene and alpha-tropomyosin gene. Recently, a tocopherol-dependent transcription factor (tocopherol-associated protein) has been discovered. In cultured cells it has been demonstrated that vitamin E inhibits inflammation, cell adhesion, platelet aggregation and smooth muscle cell proliferation. Recent advances in molecular biology and genomic techniques have led to the discovery of novel vitamin E-sensitive genes and signal transduction pathways.

Dose-dependent suppression of serum cholesterol by tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF25) of rice bran in hypercholesterolemic humans

Qureshi, A. A.,Sami, S. A.,Salser, W. A.,Khan, F. A.

Atherosclerosis, 2002. 161(1): 199-207.


Tocotrienols are effective in lowering serum total and LDL-cholesterol levels by inhibiting the hepatic enzymic activity of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylglutaryl coenzymeA (HMG-CoA) reductase through the post-transcriptional mechanism. alpha-Tocopherol, however, has an opposite effect (induces) on this enzyme activity. Since tocotrienols are also converted to tocopherols in vivo, it is necessary not to exceed a certain dose, as this would be counter-productive. The present study demonstrates the effects of various doses of a tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF25) of stabilized and heated rice bran in hypercholesterolemic human subjects on serum lipid parameters. Ninety (18/group) hypercholesterolemic human subjects participated in this study, which comprised three phases of 35 days each. The subjects were initially placed on the American Heart Association (AHA) Step-1 diet and the effects noted. They were then administered 25, 50, 100, and 200 mg/day of TRF25 while on the restricted (AHA) diet. The results show that a dose of 100 mg/day of TRF25 produce maximum decreases of 20, 25, 14 (P<0.05) and 12%, respectively, in serum total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, apolipoprotein B and triglycerides compared with the baseline values, suggesting that a dose of 100 mg/day TRF25 plus AHA Step-1 diet may be the optimal dose for controlling the risk of coronary heart disease in hypercholesterolemic human subjects.

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