Tocotrienol-adjuvanted dendritic cells inhibit tumor growth and metastasis: a murine model of breast cancer.

Abdul Hafid SR, Chakravarthi S, Nesaretnam K, Radhakrishnan AK.

Tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) from palm oil is reported to possess anti-cancer and immune-enhancing effects. In this study, TRF supplementation was used as an adjuvant to enhance the anti-cancer effects of dendritic cells (DC)-based cancer vaccine in a syngeneic mouse model of breast cancer. Female BALB/c mice were inoculated with 4T1 cells in mammary pad to induce tumor. When the tumor was palpable, the mice in the experimental groups were injected subcutaneously with DC-pulsed with tumor lysate (TL) from 4T1 cells (DC+TL) once a week for three weeks and fed daily with 1 mg TRF or vehicle. Control mice received unpulsed DC and were fed with vehicle. The combined therapy of using DC+TL injections and TRF supplementation (DC+TL+TRF) inhibited (p<0.05) tumor growth and metastasis. Splenocytes from the DC+TL+TRF group cultured with mitomycin-C (MMC)-treated 4T1 cells produced higher (p<0.05) levels of IFN-γ and IL-12. The cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) assay also showed enhanced tumor-specific killing (p<0.05) by CD8(+) T-lymphocytes isolated from mice in the DC+TL+TRF group. This study shows that TRF has the potential to be used as an adjuvant to enhance effectiveness of DC-based vaccines.

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Novel Treatment of Leukemia Combines Tocotrienol with Statins

A potential novel treatment for leukemia which combines tocotrienol, the unsaturated form of Vitamin E with statins, has received a research award from the American Society of Hematology. The study is conducted by Ko Maung, a medical student at East Tennessee State University under the supervision of Dr K. Krishnan. According to Maung, tocotrienol can be effective in killing prostate cancer cells from previous studies; combining tocotrienol with statin may have synergistic effect in killing leukemia cells. The dosage and treatment duration will also be studied to minimise the side effects.

Both tocotrienol and statin act on the mevalonate pathway from which the lipid isoprenoid precursors (farnesyl, geranylgeranyl etc.) were produced. These isoprenoids facilitate membrane anchoring of cell signalling proteins including Ras / Raf etc. which mediate cancer cell proliferation. In addition, low level of cholesterol is associated with decreased level of Prostate Serum Antigen (PSA). Targeting the cholesterol / mevalonate synthesis pathway with the combination therapy is expected to enhance the anti-cancer effect of tocotrienol.

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Protective effects of tocotrienols against lipid-induced nephropathy in experimental type-2 diabetic rats by modulation in TGF-β expression.

Siddiqui S, Ahsan H, Khan MR, Siddiqui WA.

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2013 Sep 13. pii: S0041-008X(13)00396-7. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2013.09.004. [Epub ahead of print]

Dyslipidemia is common in patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) and is considered a risk factor for the progression of diabetic nephropathy (DN). Hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia act synergistically to induce renal injury. The present study was designed to investigate the protective effects of tocotrienols as tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) extracted from palm (PO) and rice bran oils (RBO) against lipid induced nephropathy in type-2 diabetic rats and its probable molecular mechanism. Male Wistar rats (175-200 gm) were divided into four groups. The first group served as diabetic control, while the second and third group received PO-TRF and RBO-TRF, respectively by gavage over a period of sixteen weeks post-induction of diabetes. The fourth group comprised of age-matched rats that served as normal control. The effects of TRF on serum lipid profile, oxidative stress markers, expression of TGF-β, fibronectin and collagen type IV were analyzed in the kidney of diabetic rats. Treatment with PO-TRF and RBO-TRF significantly improved glycemic status, serum lipid profile and renal function in type-2 diabetic rats. In addition, TRF supplementation down-regulated the expression of TGF-β, fibronectin and collagen type IV in the kidney of diabetic rats. Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) plays a critical role in progression of DN, but its modulation by tocotrienols in DN remains unexplored. TRF ameliorated lipid induced nephropathy in type-2 diabetes by its hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic and antioxidant activities as well as by modulation of TGF-β to prevent increased expression of collagen type IV and fibrinogen. We finally propose a mechanism for the expression of molecular markers that are significant in the events leading to diabetic nephropathy and its modulation by tocotrienols/TRF.

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Combined γ-tocotrienol and Met inhibitor treatment suppresses mammary cancer cell proliferation, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and migration.

Ayoub NM, Akl MR, Sylvester PW

Cell Prolif. 2013 Aug 23. doi: 10.1111/cpr.12059. [Epub ahead of print]



Dysregulation of Met signalling is associated with malignant transformation. Combined treatment has been shown to reduce Met activation and mammary tumour cell proliferation. Experiments here, were conducted to determine mechanisms involved in mediating anti-cancer effects of combined γ-tocotrienol and SU11274 (Met inhibitor) treatment in various mammary cancer cell lines.


Treatment effects on mouse (+SA) and human (MCF-7, and MDA-MB-231) mammary cancer cell lines, and normal mouse (CL-S1) and human (MCF10A) mammary epithelial cell lines were compared. Cell proliferation and survival were determined by MTT assay and Ki-67 staining; protein expression was determined by western blot analysis. Immunofluorescence staining was also used to characterize expression and localization of multiple epithelial and mesenchymal markers. Cell migration was determined using a wound-healing assay.


Combined treatment with γ-tocotrienol and SU11274 resulted in synergistic inhibition of +SA, MCF-7, and MDA-MB-231, but not CL-S1 or MCF10A cell growth that was associated with reduction in Akt STAT1/5 and NFκB activation and corresponding blockade in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, as indicated by increased expression of E-cadherin, β-catenin, and cytokeratins 8/18 (epithelial markers) and corresponding reduction in vimentin (mesenchymal marker) and reduction in cancer cell motility.


Suggest that combined γ-tocotrienol and Met inhibitor treatment may provide benefit in treatment of breast cancers characterized by aberrant Met activity.

Attenuation of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced cytotoxicity by tocopherols and tocotrienols.

Nishio K, Horie M, Akazawa Y, Shichiri M, Iwahashi H, Hagihara Y, Yoshida Y, Niki E.

Redox Biol. 2013 Jan 30;1(1):97-103. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2012.10.002.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induces host inflammatory responses and tissue injury and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of various age-related diseases such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, vascular diseases, and periodontal disease. Antioxidants, particularly vitamin E, have been shown to suppress oxidative stress induced by LPS, but the previous studies with different vitamin E isoforms gave inconsistent results. In the present study, the protective effects of α- and γ-tocopherols and α- and γ-tocotrienols on the oxidative stress induced by LPS against human lung carcinoma A549 cells were studied. They suppressed intracellular reactive oxygen formation, lipid peroxidation, induction of inflammatory mediator cytokines, and cell death. Tocopherols were incorporated into cultured cells much slower than tocotrienols but could suppress LPS-induced oxidative stress at much lower intracellular concentration than tocotrienols. Considering the bioavailability, it was concluded that α-tocopherol may exhibit the highest protective capacity among the vitamin E isoforms against LPS-induced oxidative stress.

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Neuroprotective Effects of α-Tocotrienol on Kainic Acid-Induced Neurotoxicity in Organotypic Hippocampal Slice Cultures

Jung NY, Lee KH, Won R, Lee BH

Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14(9), 18256-18268; doi:10.3390/ijms140918256


Vitamin E, such as alpha-tocopherol (ATPH) and alpha-tocotrienol (ATTN), is a chain-breaking antioxidant that prevents the chain propagation step during lipid peroxidation. In the present study, we investigated the effects of ATTN on KA-induced neuronal death using organotypic hippocampal slice culture (OHSC) and compared the neuroprotective effects of ATTN and ATPH. After 15 h KA (5 µM) treatment, delayed neuronal death was detected in the CA3 region and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and lipid peroxidation were also increased. Both co-treatment and post-treatment of ATPH (100 µM) or ATTN (100 µM) significantly increased the cell survival and reduced the number of TUNEL-positive cells in the CA3 region. Increased dichlorofluorescein (DCF) fluorescence and levels of thiobarbiturate reactive substances (TBARS) were decreased by ATPH and ATTN treatment. These data suggest that ATPH and ATTN treatment have protective effects on KA-induced cell death in OHSC. ATTN treatment tended to be more effective than ATPH treatment, even though there was no significant difference between ATPH and ATTN in co-treatment or post-treatment.

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Tocotrienols enhance melanosome degradation through endosome docking/fusion proteins in B16F10 melanoma cells.

Choi B, Heo JH, Kwon HJ, Lee ES, Sohn S.

Food Funct. 2013 Sep 2. [Epub ahead of print]


Vitamin E inhibits tyrosinase activity and acts as a melanogenesis inhibitor in epidermal melanocytes in vitro. However, there is no direct evidence indicating that melanosomes are degraded in lysosomes in the presence of vitamin E. To determine whether vitamin E-induced melanosome disintegration is related to the expression of endosome docking/fusion proteins in B16F10 melanoma cells, electron microscopy, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and real-time PCR were used to observe the effects of tocomin (α-tocopherols and α,γ,δ-tocotrienols in palm oil) on B16F10 melanoma cells. Melanosomal integrity was lost in lysosomes of B16F10 melanoma cells when treated with tocomin, indicating that tocomin caused the degradation of melanosomes in the lysosomal compartment. RT-PCR and real-time PCR analysis demonstrated mRNA expression of tyrosinase and the endosome docking/fusion proteins (syntaxin7, Rab7, Vps11, Vps16, Vps33, Vps39, and Vps41). Expression of syntaxin7, Vps16, Vps33, and Vps41 mRNA increased significantly in cells treated with tocomin compared with that in controls. These results indicate that the tocomin-induced degradation of melanosomes in the lysosomal compartment occurs with an increase in endosome docking/fusion proteins (syntaxin7, Vps16, Vps33, and Vps41) in cultured B16F10 melanoma cells.

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Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor γ (PPARγ)-Independent Specific Cytotoxicity against Immature Adipocytes Induced by PPARγ Antagonist T0070907.

Kawahara A, Haraguchi N, Tsuchiya H, Ikeda Y, Hama S, Kogure K.

Biol Pharm Bull. 2013;36(9):1428-34.


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) plays indispensable roles in adipogenesis, which is frequently impaired under pathological conditions such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Thus, a potent PPARγ antagonist, T0070907 is known as a useful tool for understanding such pathological conditions, while T007097 was also suggested to have PPARγ-independent actions. In the present study, we found that T0070907 inhibited adipogenesis concomitantly with the induction of rapid apoptosis of immature adipocytes within 2 h, whereas another PPARγ antagonist, SR-202 did not show such cytotoxicity. However, T0070907 did not affect the viabilities of pre-adipocytes, mature adipocytes, and NIH-3T3 fibroblasts. The cytotoxic effect of T0070907 was not inhibited by GW1929, a PPARγ agonist, but was inhibited by α-tocopherol, which was previously shown to provide clinical benefit to NASH patients. Interestingly, treatment with high amounts of α-tocopherol alone slightly increased the cellular lipid content in mature adipocytes, but did not affect PPARγ-dependent luciferase reporter expression in COS-7 cells. Moreover, other lipophilic antioxidants, such as tocotrienols, tert-butylhydroquinone, and butylated hydroxyanisole, also inhibited T0070907-induced apoptosis like α-tocopherol. Consequently, it is suggested that T0070907 efficiently inhibits adipogenesis, not only via PPARγ-dependent manner, but also through the induction of apoptosis specifically against immature adipocytes via oxidative stress in a PPARγ-independent manner.

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Effect of PEG Surface Conformation on Anticancer Activity and Blood Circulation of Nanoemulsions Loaded with Tocotrienol-Rich Fraction of Palm Oil.

Alayoubi A, Alqahtani S, Kaddoumi A, Nazzal S.

AAPS J. 2013 Aug 30


Tocotrienol-rich fraction of palm oil, which contains the isomers of vitamin E, was shown to possess potent anticancer activity against mammary adenocarcinoma cell lines. Its clinical use, however, is limited by poor oral bioavailability and short half-life. Previously, we developed tocotrienol-rich lipid nanoemulsions for intravenous administration. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of surface grafted polyethylene glycol (PEG) on the properties of the nanoemulsions. PEGylation was achieved by the addition of equimolar PEG groups using poloxamer or 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-[amino(polyethylene glycol)2000] (PEG2000-DSPE). The effect of PEG surface topography on the antiproliferative activity of nanoemulsions against mammary adenocarcinoma cells, their susceptibility to protein adsorption, and its effect on blood hemolysis and circulation time was investigated. Nanoemulsions PEGylated with poloxamer or PEG2000-DSPE were stable under physical stress. Poloxamer nanoemulsion, however, displayed higher uptake and potency against MCF-7 tumor cells in 2D and 3D culture and increased hemolytic effect and susceptibility to IgG adsorption, which was reflected in its rapid clearance and short circulation half-life (1.7 h). Conversely, PEGylation with PEG2000-DSPE led to a 7-fold increase in mean residence time (12.3 h) after IV injection in rats. Reduced activity in vitro and improved circulation time suggested strong shielding of plasma proteins from the droplets. Differences between the nanoemulsions were attributed to polymer imbibitions and the differences in PEG conformation and density on the surface of the droplets.

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