Can ω-3 fatty acids and tocotrienol-rich vitamin E reduce symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders?

Gumpricht E, Rockway S.

The incidence of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, which include autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders, and apraxia, are increasing worldwide and have a profound effect on the behaviors, cognitive skills, mood, and self-esteem of these children. Although the etiologies of these disorders are unclear, they often accompany genetic and biochemical abnormalities resulting in cognitive and communication difficulties. Because cognitive and neural development require essential fatty acids (particularly long-chain ω-3 fatty acids often lacking in mother’s and children’s diets) during critical growth periods, the potential behavior-modifying effects of these fatty acids as “brain nutrients” has attracted considerable attention. Additionally, there is compelling evidence for increased oxidative stress, altered antioxidant defenses, and neuroinflammation in these children. The purpose of this review is to provide a scientific rationale based on cellular, experimental animal model, observational, and clinical intervention studies for incorporating the combination of ω-3 fatty acids and tocotrienol-rich vitamin E as complementary nutritional therapies in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Should this nutritional combination correct key clinical or biochemical outcomes and/or improve behavioral patterns, it would provide a safe, complementary option for these children.

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Molecular dynamics guided design of tocoflexol: a new radioprotectant tocotrienol with enhanced bioavailability.

Compadre CM, Singh A, Thakkar S, Zheng G, Breen PJ, Ghosh S, Kiaei M, Boerma M, Varughese KI, Hauer-Jensen M.

Preclinical Research There is a pressing need to develop safe and effective radioprotector/radiomitigator agents for use in accidental or terrorist-initiated radiological emergencies. Naturally occurring vitamin E family constituents, termed tocols, that include the tocotrienols, are known to have radiation-protection properties. These agents, which work through multiple mechanisms, are promising radioprotectant agents having minimal toxicity. Although α-tocopherol (AT) is the most commonly studied form of vitamin E, the tocotrienols are more potent than AT in providing radioprotection and radiomitigation. Unfortunately, despite their very significant radioprotectant activity, tocotrienols have very short plasma half-lives and require dosing at very high levels to achieve necessary therapeutic benefits. Thus, it would be highly desirable to develop new vitamin E analogues with improved pharmacokinetic properties, specifically increased elimination half-life and increased area under the plasma level versus time curve. The short elimination half-life of the tocotrienols is related to their low affinity for the α-tocopherol transfer protein (ATTP), the protein responsible for maintaining the plasma level of the tocols. Tocotrienols have less affinity for ATTP than does AT, and thus have a longer residence time in the liver, putting them at higher risk for metabolism and biliary excretion. We hypothesized that the low-binding affinity of tocotrienols to ATTP is due to the relatively more rigid tail structure of the tocotrienols in comparison with that of the tocopherols. Therefore, compounds with a more flexible tail would have better binding to ATTP and consequently would have longer elimination half-life and, consequently, an increased exposure to drug, as measured by area under the plasma drug level versus time curve (AUC). This represents an enhanced residence of drug in the systemic circulation. Based on this hypothesis, we developed a new class of vitamin E analogues, the tocoflexols, which maintain the superior bioactivity of the tocotrienols with the potential to achieve the longer half-life and larger AUC of the tocopherols.

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Comparable down-regulation of TYR, TYRP1 and TYRP2 genes and inhibition of melanogenesis by tyrostat, tocotrienol-rich fraction and tocopherol in human skin melanocytes improves skin pigmentation.

Makpol S, Jam FA, Rahim NA, Khor SC, Ismail Z, Yusof YA, Wan Ngah WZ.


Antioxidant has been recognized to inhibit UV-induced melanogenesis. This study aimed to elucidate the molecular mechanism of tyrostat, tocopherol and tocotrienol-rich fraction in inhibiting melanogenesis in human skin melanocytes.


Primary culture of melanocytes was exposed to repeated doses of 0.6 J/cm2 UVA for 6 days and treated with tyrostat, tocotrienol-rich fraction or tocopherol alone or in combination.


UVA irradiation increased melanin content and tyrosinase activity and up-regulated TYR, TYRP1 and TYRP2 genes. Treatment with tyrostat, tocotrienol-rich fraction or tocopherol decreased melanin content and down-regulated TYR, TYRP1 and TYRP2 genes with decreased tyrosinase activity. Combined treatment exerted better effects as compared to treatment with single compound in decreasing the melanin content and down-regulating TYR, TYRP1 and TYRP2 genes. These findings indicated that tyrostat, tocotrienol-rich fraction and tocopherol inhibit melanogenesis by modulating the expression of genes involved in the regulation of melanin synthesis and inhibiting tyrosinase activity.


Tyrostat, tocopherol and tocotrienol-rich fraction possessed anti-melanogenic properties and might be useful in improving skin pigmentation caused by UVA exposure.

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Inhibitory effects of palm tocotrienol-rich fraction supplementation on bilirubin-metabolizing enzymes in hyperbilirubinemic adult rats.

Kamisah Y, Lim JJ, Lim CL, Asmadi AY.


Phenylhydrazine, a hemolytic agent, is widely used as a model of experimental hyperbilirubinemia. Palm tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) was shown to exert beneficial effects in hyperbilirubinemic rat neonates.


To investigate the effects of palm TRF supplementation on hepatic bilirubin-metabolizing enzymes and ocidative stress status in rats administered phenylhydrazine.


Twenty-four male Wistar rats were divided into two groups; one group was intraperitoneally injected with palm TRF at the dose of 30 mg/kg/day, while another group was only given vehicle (control) (vitamin E-free palm oil) for 14 days. Twenty-four hours after the last dose, each group was further subdivided into another two groups. One group was administered phenylhydrazine (100 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) and another group was administered normal saline. Twenty-four hours later, blood and liver were collected for biochemical parameter measurements.


Phenylhydrazine increased plasma total bilirubin level and oxidative stress in the erythrocytes as well as in the liver, which were reduced by the pretreatment of palm TRF. Palm TRF also prevented the increases in hepatic heme oxygenase, biliverdin reductase and UDP-glucuronyltransferase activities induced by phenylhydrazine.


Palm tocotrienol-rich fraction was able to afford protection against phenylhydrazine-induced hyperbilirubinemia, possibly by reducing oxidative stress and inhibiting bilirubin-metabolizing enzymes in the liver.

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