Naturally occurring vitamin E, comprised of four forms each of tocopherols and tocotrienols, are synthesized solely by photosynthetic organisms and function primarily as antioxidants. These different forms vary in their biological availability and in their physiological and chemical activities. Tocopherols and tocotrienols play important roles in the oxidative stability of vegetable oils and in the nutritional quality of crop plants for human and livestock diets. The isolation of genes for nearly all the steps in tocopherol and tocotrienol biosynthesis has facilitated efforts to alter metabolic flux through these pathways in plant cells. Herein we review the recent work done in the field, focusing on branch points and metabolic engineering to enhance and alter vitamin E content and composition in oilseed crops.
To elucidate the transepithelial transport characteristics of lipophilic compounds, the cellular uptake of tocopherol and tocotrienol isomers were investigated in Caco2 cell monolayer models. These vitamin E isomers formed mixed micelles consisting of bile salts, lysophospholipids, free fatty acid, and 2-monoacylglycerols, then the micelles were supplied to Caco2 cells. The initial accumulation of tocotrienol isomers in Caco2 cells was larger than those of corresponding tocopherol isomers. There was little difference among the cellular accumulations of four tocopherol isomers. These findings suggested that the difference between the molecular structures of the C16 hydrocarbon chain tail in tocopherol and tocotrienol was strongly responsible for the rapid epithelial transport into the Caco2 cells membranes rather than the difference in the molecular structures of their chromanol head groups. Furthermore, the secretion of alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocotrienol from Caco2 cells was investigated using Caco2 cells plated on a transwell. The time courses of their secretions from Caco2 cells showed that the initial secretion rate of gamma-tocotrienol was also larger than that of alpha-tocopherol. To investigate the intestinal uptake of alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocotrienol in vivo, the mice were fed single doses of alpha-tocopherol or gamma-tocotrienol with triolein. The gamma-tocotrienol responded faster in plasma than alpha-tocopherol, although the maximal level of gamma-tocotrienol was lower than that of alpha-tocopherol. This suggested that the intestinal uptake properties of administered alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocotrienol would characterize their plasma level transitions in mice.
A rapid analytical method including pressurized liquid extraction (PLE) and liquid chromatography-electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS) has been developed for the determination of tocopherols and tocotrienols in cereals. The pressurized liquid extraction parameters were optimized in order to maximize the extraction efficiency. The use of methanol as extraction solvent at a temperature of 50 degrees C and a pressure of 110 bar, using one cycle of extraction with a static time of 5 min, provided the best results. A good LC separation was achieved using a C(18) column and a solution of 6.0 mM ammonia in methanol/water (97:3, v/v) as the mobile phase at a flow rate of 0.2 mL min(-1). MS coupling with an ESI interface in the negative ion mode was used as the detection technique. In the present work, it is shown that the addition of a base to the mobile phase is required to enhance the ionization of tocopherols and tocotrienols in negative ion mode electrospray ionization. The applicability of the method to cereal samples was confirmed. The reproducibility of the procedure was good, with relative standard deviations in the 6-10% range. The recoveries of added tocopherols from cereal samples ranged from 91 to 109%.
Objectives: This study examined the effect of tocotrienols (TOCOVIDTM Suprabio TM ) on serum lipids.
Study design: A randomised, open-label study
Subjects: Patients with mild hypercholesterolemia and one additional cardiovascular risk factor
Intervention: Tocotrienol versus vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 500mg daily
Primary outcome: Fasting Lipid levels
Methodology: A randomised (2:1), open-label study of patients with mild hypercholesterolaemia (= 5.18mmol/L to <7.77mmol/L) and one additional cardiovascular risk factor was carried out. Subjects received either tocotrienols (n=28) or vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 500mg daily (n=16). Fasting lipids were compared at baseline and after 4 weeks therapy.
Results: Following 4 weeks therapy, mean +/- SD total cholesterol declined significantly in the tocotrienol group (from 6.10+/-0.66 to 5.47+/-1.16; P=0.02) compared to the a-tocopherol group (from 5.92+/-0.52 to 5.47+/-0.76; P>0.05). Mean LDL-C levels (mmol/L) were also significantly reduced in the tocotrienol group (3.82+/-0.85 to 3.24+/-1.26; P=0.04), but not in those on a-tocopherol(3.84+/-0.75 to 3.28+/-0.94; P>0.05). There were no significant changes in HDL-C and triglycerides in both groups. The tocotrienol group experienced a net decline in TG (7.1+/-31.4 %; P>0.05) while the a-tocopherol group had a net increase at week 4 (38.6+/-61.7%; P>0.05).
Conclusion: The study adds to existing evidence of the favourable effect of tocotrienols on total cholesterol and LDL-C. However, the results need further evaluation.