Unlike the tocopherols, the tocotrienols, also members of the vitamin E family, have an unsaturated isoprenoid side chain. In contrast to extensive studies on tocopherol, very little is known about tocotrienol. Because the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathway has a central role in tumorigenesis, we investigated the effect of gamma-tocotrienol on the NF-kappaB pathway. Although gamma-tocotrienol completely abolished tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF)-induced NF-kappaB activation, a similar dose of gamma-tocopherol had no effect. Besides TNF, gamma-tocotrienol also abolished NF-kappaB activation induced by phorbol myristate acetate, okadaic acid, lipopolysaccharide, cigarette smoke, interleukin-1beta, and epidermal growth factor. Constitutive NF-kappaB activation expressed by certain tumor cells was also abrogated by gamma-tocotrienol. Reducing agent had no effect on the gamma-tocotrienol-induced down-regulation of NF-kappaB. Mevalonate reversed the NF-kappaB inhibitory effect of gamma-tocotrienol, indicating the role of hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase. Gamma-tocotrienol blocked TNF-induced phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaBalpha through the inhibition of IkappaBalpha kinase activation, thus leading to the suppression of the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of p65. gamma-Tocotrienol also suppressed NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene transcription induced by TNF, TNFR1, TRADD, TRAF2, TAK1, receptor-interacting protein, NIK, and IkappaBalpha kinase but not that activated by p65. Additionally, the expressions of NF-kappaB-regulated gene products associated with antiapoptosis (IAP1, IAP2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-2, cFLIP, XIAP, Bfl-1/A1, TRAF1, and Survivin), proliferation (cyclin D1, COX2, and c-Myc), invasion (MMP-9 and ICAM-1), and angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor) were down-regulated by gamma-tocotrienol. This correlated with potentiation of apoptosis induced by TNF, paclitaxel, and doxorubicin. Overall, our results demonstrate that gamma-tocotrienol inhibited the NF-kappaB activation pathway, leading to down-regulation of various gene products and potentiation of apoptosis.
Tocochromanols encompass a group of compounds with vitamin E activity essential for human nutrition. They accumulate in photooxidative organisms, e.g. in some algae and in plants, where they localize to thylakoid membranes and plastoglobules of chloroplasts. Tocochromanols contain a polar chromanol head group with a long isoprenoid side chain. Depending on the nature of the isoprenoid chain, tocopherols (containing a phytyl chain) or tocotrienols (geranylgeranyl chain) can be distinguished in plants. The tocochromanol biosynthetic pathway has been studied in Arabidopsis and Synechocystis in recent years, and the respective mutants and genes were isolated. Mutant characterization revealed that tocopherol protects lipids in photosynthetic membranes and in seeds against oxidative stress. In addition to its antioxidant characteristics, tocopherol was shown be involved in non-antioxidant functions such as primary carbohydrate metabolism. A considerable proportion of tocopherol is synthesized from free phytol suggesting that excess amounts of phytol released from chlorophyll breakdown during stress or senescence might be deposited in the form of tocopherol in chloroplasts.
Rice bran is abundant in bioactive compounds including tocotrienol (T3, unsaturated vitamin E). T3 has been reported about its potential functionalities (i.e., antiangiogenic effect), so much attention has been paid on usability of rice bran T3. Hence, we developed a rapid screening method for T3-rich rice bran by one-step equilibrium direct solvent extraction followed by normal phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The method gave high-extraction rate of rice bran T3 and tocopherol (above 90%), and the determination of vitamin E by HPLC was completed within 15 min. Using the method, an average of total T3 content in 109 kinds of rice bran samples was 830 mug/g dry wt. Kouchi-Akamai, Joushuu, and Wataribune were found as the T3-rich rice bran varieties (1350-1430 microg T3/g dry wt). According to T3 ratio against total vitamin E (wt %), the average ratio was 61%. Hirayama, Moritawase, and Kaneko were found as the varieties having the highest T3 ratio (80-86%). Since T3 content in Koshihikari rice bran (the leading variety in Japan) was a little above the average, we cross-fertilized Koshihikari with T3-rich varieties and found that T3 content or ratio in F1 was improved compared with Koshihikari. The varieties found rich in T3 could be used for nutraceutical purpose.