Vitamins are prominent among natural or endogenous compounds that are considered to be beneficial for both prevention and therapy of various human ailments. The vitamin E group of compounds composed of tocopherol and tocotrienol isoforms, has been subsequently proven to have health benefits including antioxidant and related protective properties. The anticancer effect of T3 remains not fully understood but generally is mediated independently of its antioxidant activity. In this study, new redox-inactive analogue of T3, 6-O-carboxypropyl-alpha-tocotrienol (T3E) showed considerable promise for stronger anticancer potency than its mother compound.
Vitamins are prominent among natural or endogenous compounds that are considered to be beneficial for both prevention and therapy of various human ailments. The vitamin E group of compounds composed of tocopherol and tocotrienol isoforms, has been subsequently proven to have health benefits including antioxidant and related protective properties. However, individual isoforms exhibit a wide-range of antioxidant potencies. Tocotrienol (T3) displays powerful anticancer activity that is often not exhibited by tocopherols, by modulating multiple intracellular signaling pathways associated with tumor cell proliferation and survival. The anticancer effect of T3 remains not fully understood but generally is mediated independently of its antioxidant activity. Further we have synthesized a new redox-inactive analogue of T3, 6-O-carboxypropyl-alpha-tocotrienol (T3E) showing considerable promise for stronger anticancer potency than its mother compound. In this mini-review, we particularly focus upon the anticancer action of the above active components of vitamin E and describe current research on the anticancer effects of T3 irrespective of antioxidant activity.
The vitamin E family members gamma- and delta-tocotrienols (2 and 3, respectively) are known natural products with documented anticancer activities. Redox-silent structural modifications, such as esterification, etherification and carbamoylation, of 2 and 3 significantly enhanced their anticancer activities. However, hit-to-lead optimization of tocotrienols and their analogs was yet to be reported at the outset of the project described herein. Subjecting the chroman ring of 2 and 3 to the electrophilic substitution reactions, namely, Mannich and Lederer-Manasse procedures, afforded 42 new products. These included the 3,4-dihydro-1,3-oxazines 3-29 and 35-44, Mannich bases 30-31, and the hydroxymethyl analogs 32-34. Of these, the delta-tocotrienol analogs 8, 11, 18, 24, 25, 27, and 40 inhibited the proliferation of the highly metastatic +SA mammary epithelial cancer cell line, with IC(50) values in the nanomolar (nM) range. In NCI’s 60 human tumor cell line panel, 8, 17, 38, and 40 showed antiproliferative activity, with nM GI(50) values. The delta-tocotrienol analogs 10 and 38 inhibited the migration of the highly metastatic human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 with IC(50) values of 1.3 and 1.5 muM, respectively, in the wound-healing assay. A dose of 0.5 mg/day for 14 days of one of the active analogs, 30, significantly slowed the growth of +SA mammary tumors in the syngeneic BALB/c mouse model, compared to the vehicle- and the parent gamma-tocotrienol-treated control groups. Electrophilic substitution reactions promoted tocotrienols to lead level and can enable their future use to control metastatic breast malignancies.
Tocotrienols (T3), the lesser known isomers of vitamin E, have been reported to possess anticancer activity both in in vitro and in vivo experimental models of rodents transplanted with parental tumors or treated with carcinogens. We investigated the effects of dietary supplementation with annatto-T3 (90% delta-T3 and 10% gamma-T3) on the spontaneous development of mammary tumors in HER-2/neu transgenic mice. Underlying mechanisms of the antitumor effect were evaluated by studying apoptosis, senescent-like growth arrest, immune modulation, oxidative effect and the expression of HER-2/neu in tumoral mammary glands of transgenic mice and in vitro in human and mice tumor cell lines. Annatto-T3 supplementation delayed the development of mammary tumors, reducing the number and size of mammary tumor masses and those of lung metastases. In annatto-T3-supplemented mice, both apoptosis and senescent-like growth arrest of tumor cells were increased in mammary glands while no immune modulation was observed. In vitro, a dose-dependent inhibition of cell growth, increased apoptosis and senescent-like growth arrest and a time-dependent accumulation of reactive oxygen species were observed in tumor cells treated with annatto-T3 or purified delta-T3. Annatto-T3 reduced both HER-2/neu mRNA and p185(HER-2/neu) protein in tumors and in tumor cell lines. The results show that the antitumor effect of annatto-T3 supplementation in HER-2/neu transgenic mice is mainly related to the direct induction of oxidative stress, senescent-like growth arrest and apoptosis of tumor cells rather than to an immune modulation.
OBJECTIVES: Tocotrienols and tocopherols are members of the vitamin E family, with similar structures; however, only tocotrienols have been reported to achieve potent anti-cancer effects. The study described here has evaluated anti-cancer activity of vitamin E to elucidate mechanisms of cell death, using human breast cancer cells. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Anti-cancer activity of a tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) and a tocotrienol-enriched fraction (TEF) isolated from palm oil, as well as pure vitamin E analogues (alpha-tocopherol, alpha-, delta- and gamma-tocotrienols) were studied using highly aggressive triple negative MDA-MB-231 cells and oestrogen-dependent MCF-7 cells, both of human breast cancer cell lines. Cell population growth was evaluated using a Coulter particle counter. Cell death mechanism, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and levels of NF-kappaB were determined using commercial ELISA kits. RESULTS: Tocotrienols exerted potent anti-proliferative effects on both types of cell by inducing apoptosis, the underlying mechanism of cell death being ascertained using respective IC50 concentrations of all test compounds. There was marked induction of apoptosis in both cell lines by tocotrienols compared to treatment with Paclitaxel, which was used as positive control. This activity was found to be associated with cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (a DNA repair protein), demonstrating involvement of the apoptotic cell death signalling pathway. Tocotrienols also inhibited expression of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-kappaB), which in turn can increase sensitivity of cancer cells to apoptosis. CONCLUSION: Tocotrienols induced anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects in association with DNA fragmentation, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and NF-kappaB inhibition in the two human breast cancer cell lines.