Tocotrienol enriched palm oil prevents atherosclerosis through modulating the activities of peroxisome proliferators-activated receptors

Li F, Tan W, Kang Z, Wong CW.

Atherosclerosis. 2010 Jul;211(1):278-82. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Palm oil is enriched in vitamin E in the form of alpha-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienols. Dietary tocotrienol supplements have been shown to prevent atherosclerosis development in patients and preclinical animal models. However, the mechanistic basis for this health beneficial effect is not well established. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors alpha, gamma, and delta (PPARalpha, PPARgamma, and PPARdelta) are ligand regulated transcription factors that play essential preventive roles in the development of atherosclerosis through regulating energy metabolism and inflammation. In this study, we presented data that the tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF) of palm oil activated PPARalpha, PPARgamma, and PPARdelta in reporter based assays. Importantly, TRF attenuated the development of atherosclerosis in ApoE-/- mice through inducing PPAR target gene liver X receptor alpha (LXRalpha) and its down-stream target genes apolipoproteins and cholesterol transporters, suggesting that modulating the activities of PPARs is a key aspect of the in vivo action of tocotrienols.

Industrial and occupational exposure to chromium compounds, particularly hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI))-containing compounds are often known to cause acute renal injury (ARI) in humans and animals. Its nephrotoxicity is associated with an increased formation of reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation in renal tissue. Recent studies suggest that antioxidants of the vitamin E family have protective effects against metal toxicity.Tocotrienols are known to have greater antioxidant activity than tocopherols and protect more efficiently against some free radical-related diseases than does tocopherols. In the present study, ARI induced by potassium dichromate (K(2)Cr(2)O(7)) has been used as a model to investigate the possible nephroprotective effect of tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) from palm oil. Wistar male rats having an average body weight (bw) of 210 g were divided into four groups. The first group was taken as control and injected with vehicle alone while the second group was drug control and ingested with TRF (200mg/kg, bw, orally, once daily for 21 days); the third group served as toxicant and was pre-treated with saline, followed by a single subcutaneous (SC) injection of K(2)Cr(2)O(7) (15 mg/kg bw). The fourth group was pre-treated with TRF and subsequently injected with K(2)Cr(2)O(7) (same dose as for the third group). Renal functions, oxidative and nitrosative stress were evaluated on days 0, 1, 2, 4, 7, 11 and 14 after treatment with K(2)Cr(2)O(7). The results revealed altered proximal tubular function; decreased glomerular filtration accompanied by oxidative damage 48 h after exposure to dichromate; while in the TRF-treated group proximal reabsorptive function, glomerular function and the cellular redox status were sustained. These results were further supported and confirmed by histological findings. The study suggests that TRF is effective in preventing K(2)Cr(2)O(7)-induced acute renal injury, but more studies are needed to confirm the effects of TRF as a nephroprotective agent.

To determine the bioavailability of tocotrienol complex with gamma-cyclodextrin, the effects of tocotrienol/gamma-cyclodextrin complex ontocotrienol concentration in rat plasma and tissues were studied. Rats were administered by oral gavage an emulsion containing tocotrienol,tocotrienol with gamma-cyclodextrin, or tocotrienol/gamma-cyclodextrin complex. At 3 h after administration, the plasma gamma-tocotrienolconcentration of the rats administered tocotrienol/gamma-cyclodextrin complex was higher than that of the rats administered tocotrienol and gamma-cyclodextrin. In order to determine the effect of complexation on tocotrienol absorption, rats were injected with Triton WR1339, which prevents the catabolism of triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein by lipoprotein lipase, and then administered by oral gavage an emulsion containing tocotrienol,tocotrienol with gamma-cyclodextrin, or tocotrienol/gamma-cyclodextrin complex. The plasma gamma-tocotrienol concentration of the Triton-treated rats administered tocotrienol/gamma-cyclodextrin complex was higher than that of the other Triton-treated rats. These results suggest that complexation of tocotrienol with gamma-cyclodextrin elevates plasma and tissue tocotrienol concentrations by enhancing intestinal absorption.

α-Tocopherol (a-Toc) enhances T cell function, whereas little is known in this regard for tocotrienols (T3), the less-known members of the vitamin E family. We pair-fed young (4 mo) and old (23 mo) C57BL/6 mice 0.1% Tocomin 50%, a mixture of T3 and α-Toc or a control diet containing an equal amount of α-Toc for 6 wk. As expected, lymphocyte proliferation was lower in the old mice compared with the young mice. Lymphocyte proliferation in the old T3 group was significantly higher than that in the old control group, whereas no significant difference was found in young mice. Splenocytes from old mice produced less interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 compared with young mice, whereas no significant age-related difference was found in IL-1b, tumor necrosis factor-a, and interferon-g. T3 feeding was associated with a higher IL-1b production in old mice but not in young mice. Peritoneal macrophages from old mice produced significantly more IL-1b, IL-6, IL-10, and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) compared with those from young mice. Mice of both ages fed T3 had higher production of IL-1b but not PGE2 or other cytokines. In the in vitro study, splenocytes isolated from young and old mice were supplemented with the purified form of each individual T3 (0.01–10 mmol/L) and mitogen-stimulated cell proliferation was determined. All T3 enhanced lymphocyte proliferation in old but not young mice with a potency order of α> γ> δ-T3. Together, these results suggest a beneficial effect of T3 in improving the age-related decline in T cell function.

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Gamma-Tocotrienol modulates the paracrine secretion of VEGF induced by cobalt(II) chloride via ERK signaling pathway in gastric adenocarcinoma SGC-7901 cell line.

Bi S, Liu JR, Li Y, Wang Q, Liu HK, Yan YG, Chen BQ, Sun WG.

Toxicology. 2010 Jul;274(1-3):27-33.

Hypoxia is a common characteristic feature of solid tumors, and carcinoma cells are known to secrete many growth factors. These growth factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), play a major role in the regulation of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. In this study, the effect of gamma-tocotrienol, a natural product commonly found in palm oil and rice bran, on the accumulation of HIF-1alpha protein and the paracrine secretion of VEGF in human gastric adenocarcinoma SGC-7901 cell line induced by cobalt(II) chloride (as a hypoxia mimic) was investigated. These results showed that cobalt(II) chloride induced the high expression of VEGF in SGC-7901 cells at dose of 150 micromol/L for 24h. Both basal level and cobalt(II) chloride-induced HIF-1alpha protein accumulation and VEGF paracrine secretion were inhibited in SGC-7901 cells treated with gamma-tocotrienol at 60 micromol/L treatment for 24 h. U0126, a MEK1/2 inhibitor, decreased the expression of HIF-1alpha protein and the paracrine secretion of VEGF under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In this study, gamma-tocotrienol also significantly inhibited the hypoxia-stimulated expression of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (p-ERK1/2). The mechanism seems to involve in inhibiting hypoxia-mediated activation of p-ERK1/2, it leads to a marked decrease in hypoxia-induced HIF-1alpha protein accumulation and VEGF secretion. These data suggest that HIF-1alpha/VEGF could be a promising target for gamma-tocotrienol in an effective method of chemoprevention and chemotherapy in human gastric cancer.

Gamma-Tocotrienol controls proliferation, modulates expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins and up-regulates quinone reductase NQO2 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells

Hsieh TC, Elangovan S, Wu JM.

Anticancer Res. 2010 Jul;30(7):2869-74

Background: Tocotrienols, a subgroup of the vitamin E family, have demonstrated antioxidant and anticancer properties. Differential growth responses among different types of tocotrienols have been observed in breast cancer cells; however, specific bioactivity of each individual tocotrienol remains to be elucidated.

Materials And Methods: In this study, the effects of gamma-tocotrienol were examined with regard to its ability to suppress cell proliferation via modulation of cell cycle regulatory protein expression, and also from the perspective of control of cellular oxidoreductive status through regulation of detoxification enzymes, e.g., quinone reductase NQO2, using estrogen receptor-positive MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.

Results: It was shown that treatment by gamma-tocotrienol suppressed MCF-7 cell proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Growth suppression by gamma-tocotrienol was accompanied by changes in the levels of cell cycle regulatory proteins, notably, Rb/E2F complex, cyclin D1/cdk4 and cyclin B1/cdk1, as exemplified by loss of cyclin D1, inhibition of specific Rb phosphorylation (pRb-p at Thr821), and by the time- and dose-dependent increase in the expression of NQO2.

Conclusion: By exerting control on expression of specific cell cycle regulatory proteins in concomitance with suppression of cell proliferation, as well as the induction of NQO2, gamma-tocotrienol offers promise as an added chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agent against breast cancer carcinogenesis.

Effectiveness of Tocotrienol-rich Fraction Combined With Tamoxifen in the Management of Women With Early Breast Cancer: A Pilot Clinical Trial

Kalanithi Nesaretnam, PhD

Breast Cancer Res. 2010;12(5):R81.


Objective: To determine if tocotrienol Rich Fraction (TRF) in combination with Tamoxifen will improve breast cancer specific survival and recurrence free survival, in women with early breast cancer and estrogen receptor positive tumors.

Study Type: Interventional

Study Design: Non-randomized, double-blind

Subjects: Early Breast Cancer Patients

Intervention: Tocotrienol Rich Fraction, placebo plus tamoxifen

Primary Outcome: The primary end point was breast cancer specific survival, defined as the time from minimization to death due to breast cancer.

Secondary Outcome: The secondary end points included disease free survival, biochemical parameters, liver function and plasma levels of vitamin E.

Methodology: The study is a  double-blinded, placebo controlled trial of TRF plus tamoxifen versus placebo plus tamoxifen in women with primary breast cancer for five years. Both the TRF and placebo drugs were prepared and supplied by Hovid Sdn Bhd, Malaysia. Hovid Sdn. Bhd. absolutely did not have any influence in the trial designing, patient recruitment, data collection, analysis and reporting. The placebo drug which contained soy oil without tocotrienols had similar appearance and taste as the TRF drug. A total of 240 women breast cancer patients were assigned to two groups by minimization method that balanced treatment groups. The intervention group was given TRF plus tamoxifen, (n = 120) while control group was given placebo plus tamoxifen, (n = 120).

Results: During the five years of study, 8 patients died due to breast cancer while 36 patients developed local or systemic recurrence. Five-yearbreast cancer specific survival was 98.3% (95% confidence interval (CI): 95.9% to 100%) in the intervention group and 95%, (95% CI: 91.1% to 98.9%) in the control group, while 5-years disease free survival was 86.7% (95% CI: 80.6% to 92.8%) and 83.3% (95% CI: 76.6% to 90.0%), respectively. Risk of mortality due to breast cancer was 60% (HR: 0.40; 95% CI: 0.08 to 2.05) lower in the intervention group versus the controls following adjustment for age, ethnicity, stage and lymph node status but this was not statistically significant. Adjuvant TRF therapy was not associated with breast cancer recurrence (HR: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.43-1.65).

Conclusion: From the current study, there seems to be no association between adjuvant tocotrienol therapy and breast cancer specific survival in women with early breast cancer.

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