Molecular mechanism of antioxidant synergism of tocotrienols and carotenoids in palm oil

Schroeder MT, Becker EM, Skibsted LH.

J Agric Food Chem. 2006 May 3;54(9):3445-53.

During repeated deep-fat frying of potato slices at 163 degrees C in yellow or red palm olein of comparable fatty acid profiles, the oxidative stability (peroxide value and anisidine value) of the palm oleins was similar, and in yellow palm olein, the rate of antioxidant depletion decreased in the order gamma-T3 > alpha-T3 > delta-T3 (T3, tocotrienol). In red palm olein, which had a total tocopherol/tocotrienol content of 1260 vs 940 ppm in yellow palm olein and a corresponding longer induction period in the Rancimat stability test at 120 degrees C, only depletion of gamma-T3 was significant among the phenols during frying and slower as compared to that in yellow palm olein. The carotenes in the red palm olein were depleted linearly with the number of fryings, apparently yielding an overall protection of the phenols. In antioxidant-depleted palm olein and in phospholipid liposomes with added increasing concentrations of phenols, gamma-T3 was found to be a better antioxidant than alpha-T3. alpha-T3 and alpha-T (T, tocopherol) had a similar antioxidant effect in antioxidant-depleted palm olein in the Rancimat stability test, while in the liposomes the ordering as determined by induction period for the formation of conjugated dienes was gamma-T3 > alpha-T3 > alpha-T. The addition of 100-1000 ppm beta-carotene to antioxidant-depleted palm olein or liposomes (lycopene also tested) did not provide any protection against oxidation. In the liposomes, synergistic interactions were observed between beta-carotene or lycopene and alpha-T, alpha-T3, or gamma-T3 for carotene/phenol ratios of 1:10 and 1:2 but not for 1:1. In chloroform, carotenes were regenerated by tocopherols/tocotrienols from carotene radicals generated by laser flash photolysis as shown by transient absorption spectroscopy, suggesting that carotenes rather than phenols are the primary substrate for lipid-derived radicals in red palm olein, in effect depleting carotenes prior to phenols during frying. Regeneration of carotenes by the phenols also explains the synergism in liposomes. In the laser flash photolysis experiments, gamma-T3 was also found to be faster in regenerating carotenes than alpha-T3 and alpha-T.

The role of vitamin E in the CNS has not been fully elucidated. In the present study, we found that pre-treatment with vitamin E analogs including alphaT (alpha-tocopherol), alphaT3 (alpha -tocotrienol), gammaT, and gammaT3 for 24 h prevented the cultured cortical neurons from cell death in oxidative stress stimulated by H2O2, while Trolox, a cell-permeable analog of alphaT, did not. The preventive effect of alphaT was dependent on de novo protein synthesis. Furthermore, we found that alphaT exposure induced the activation of both the MAP kinase (MAPK) and PI3 kinase (PI3K) pathways and that the alphaT-dependent survival effect was blocked by the inhibitors, U0126 (an MAPK pathway inhibitor) or LY294002 (a PI3K pathway inhibitor). Interestingly, the up-regulation of Bcl-2 (survival promoting molecule) was induced by alphaT application. The up-regulation of Bcl-2 did not occur in the presence of U0126 or LY294002, suggesting that alphaT-up-regulated Bcl-2 is mediated by these kinase pathways. These observations suggest that vitamin E analogs play an essential role in neuronal maintenance and survival in the CNS.

Dose-response impact of various tocotrienols on serum lipid parameters in 5-week-old female chickens

Yu SG, Thomas AM, Gapor A, Tan B, Qureshi N, Qureshi AA.

Lipids. 2006 May;41(5):453-61.

The cholesterol-suppressive action of the tocotrienol-rich-fraction (TRF) of palm oil may be due to the effect of its constituent tocotrienols on beta-hydroxy-beta-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase activity. The tocotrienols, modulate HMG-CoA reductase activity via a post-transcriptional mechanism. As a consequence small doses (5-200 ppm) of TRF-supplemented diets fed to experimental animals lower serum cholesterol levels. These findings led us to evaluate the safety and efficacy of large supplements of TRF and its constituents. Diets supplemented with 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000, or 2000 ppm of TRF, alpha-tocopherol, alpha-tocotrienol, gamma-tocotrienol, or 6-tocotrienol were fed to chickens for 4 wk. There were no differences between groups or within groups in weight gain, or in feed consumption at the termination of the feeding period. Supplemental TRF produced a dose-response (50-2000 ppm) lowering of serum total and LDL cholesterol levels of 22% and 52% (P < 0.05), respectively, compared with the control group. alpha-Tocopherol did not affect total or LDL-cholesterol levels. Supplemental alpha-tocotrienol within the 50-500 ppm range produced a dose-response lowering of total (17%) and LDL (33%) cholesterol levels. The more potent gamma and delta isomers yielded dose-response (50-2,000 ppm) reductions of serum total (32%) and LDL (66%) cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol levels were minimally impacted by the tocotrienols; as a result, the HDL/LDL cholesterol ratios were markedly improved (123-150%) by the supplements. Serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower in sera of pullets receiving the higher supplements. The safe dose of various tocotrienols for human consumption might be 200-1000 mg/d based on this study.

Three different HPLC detection systems were compared for the determination of tocopherols and tocotrienols in olive oil: fluorescence and diode array connected in series, ultraviolet, and evaporative light scattering. The best results were obtained with the fluorescence detector, which was successfully applied in the quantification of tocopherols and tocotrienols in 18 samples of Portuguese olive oils. To support the validity of the method, the parameters evaluated were linearity, detection limits, repeatability, and recovery. All of the studied samples showed similar qualitative profiles with six identified compounds: alpha-T, beta-T, gamma-T, delta-T, alpha-T3, and gamma-T3. Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-T) was the main vitamin E isomer in all samples ranging from 93 to 260 mg/kg. The total tocopherols and tocotrienols ranged from 100 to 270 mg/kg. Geographic origin did not seem to influence the tocopherol and tocotrienol composition of the olive oils under evaluation.

Compared to tocopherols, tocotrienols are poorly understood. The postabsorptive fate of tocotrienol isomers and their association with lipoprotein subfractions was examined. Normocholesterolemic women were subjected to an oral fat challenge supplemented with vitamin E (capsule containing 77 mg alpha-tocotrienol, 96 mg alpha-tocotrienol, 3 mg gamma-tocotrienol, 62 mg alpha-tocopherol, and 96 mg gamma-tocopherol). Plasma samples were collected at every 2 h intervals for up to 8 h following a one-time supplementation. Lipoproteins were measured by NMR spectroscopy, and subfractions of lipoproteins were isolated by density gradient ultracentrifugation. The maximal alpha-tocotrienol concentrations in supplemented individuals averaged approximately 3 microM in blood plasma, 1.7 microM in LDL, 0.9 microM in triglyceride-rich lipoprotein, and 0.5 microM in HDL. The peak plasma level corresponded to 12- to 30-fold more than the concentration of alpha-tocotrienol required to completely prevent stroke-related neurodegeneration. Tocotrienols were detected in the blood plasma and all lipoprotein subfractions studied postprandially.