The Difference Between Tocopherol and Tocotrienol

Tocopherol is one of the 2 members of the vitamin E family. The other member is known as tocotrienol. Vitamin E incorporates 8 different compounds. These include 4 tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and 4 tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Both of them require fat in the diet in order to be absorbed and distributed within the body. Although it may seem like the two members are similar, various differences exist between them as outlined below.

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Tocotrienols: The promising analogues of vitamin E for cancer therapeutics

Sailo BL, Banik K, Padmavathi G, Javadi M, Bordoloi D, Kunnumakkara AB

Pharmacol Res. 2018 Feb 27. pii: S1043-6618(17)31460-3


Despite the significant advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, it still remains one of the most fatal diseases in the world due to the lack of sensitive diagnosis methods and effective drugs. Therefore, discovering novel therapies that are safe, efficacious and affordable are required for the better management of this disease. Tocotrienols, analogues of vitamin E have gained increased attention due to their safety and efficacy. Extensive research over the past several years has strongly indicated that tocotrienols can efficiently prevent/inhibit the growth of different cancers such as cancers of blood, brain, breast, cervical, colon, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, skin, stomach etc. This is mainly accredited to their ability to modulate various molecular targets involved in cancer cell proliferation, survival, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis such as NF-κB, STAT3, Akt/mTOR, etc. In addition, increasing lines of evidence has shown that tocotrienols can sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents such as celecoxib, doxorubicin, erlotinib, gefitinib, gemcitabine, paclitaxel, statin etc. Moreover, several clinical trials have confirmed the safety and tolerability of tocotrienols in humans. This review summarizes the potential of tocotrienols for the prevention and treatment of different cancers based on the available in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies.

Haptoglobin Genotype and Vitamin E Versus Placebo for the Treatment of Nondiabetic Patients with Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis in China: A Multicenter, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial Design.

Zang S, Chen J, Song Y, Bai L, Chen J, Chi X, He F, Sheng H, Wang J, Xie S, Xie W, Yang Y, Zhang J, Zheng M, Zou Z, Wang B, Shi J

Adv Ther. 2018 Feb;35(2):218-231. doi: 10.1007/s12325-018-0670-8. Epub 2018 Feb 6.



Vitamin E is one of the most promising agents for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) treatment, and its drug responsiveness may be closely associated with haptoglobin (Hp) genotype. However, its efficacy and safety remain unknown in China. This clinical trial of vitamin E versus placebo for the treatment of nondiabetic patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (VENS) is conducted to evaluate (a) the efficacy and safety of treatment with vitamin E softgel (300 mg/day) determined from standardized histologic scoring of liver biopsies, (b) whether treatment with vitamin E improves biochemical parameters, cytokines, anthropometric parameters, controlled attenuation parameter (CAP), and transient elastography (TE) values determined by Fibroscan and health-related quality of life (SF-36), (c) whether the efficacy of vitamin E treatment is associated with the Hp genotype in nondiabetic adults with NASH.


VENS is a multicenter, randomized, double-masked, placebo parallel controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of treatment with vitamin E softgel in nondiabetic adults with NASH versus treatment with placebo in China. Liver biopsies are read by a pathological evaluation committee independently according to the NASH Clinical Research Network (CRN) scoring system. The NAFLD activity score (NAS) represents the sum of scores for steatosis, lobular inflammation, and hepatocyte ballooning. The definition of histologic improvement requires all three of the following criteria to be met: (a) either improvement in NAS by at least 2 points or post-treatment NAS score no higher than 3, (b) at least 1-point improvement in the score for ballooning, and (c) no worsening of fibrosis stages. We plan to recruit 120 biopsy-proven NASH patients from13 centers in China. Participants will be randomly assigned to groups treated with either with vitamin E (100 mg, tid) or placebo for 96 weeks then followed by 24 weeks of post-treatment observation. Biochemical parameters, cytokines, anthropometric parameters, CAP and TE values, Hp genotype, and several questionnaires will be collected as per the schedule. This protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Hangzhou Normal University Affiliated Hospital to ensure patients safety, and R&G Pharmastudies Co., Ltd. was established for monitoring the accumulated interim data to review efficacy and quality of data collection and overall study management.


As a preliminary study, a mobile phone application (app) for lifestyle modification and database recording ( ) was exploited for every participant. The percentage of NAFLD patients with Hp 2-2 allele is much higher than that of Western patients (65.71% vs 36%, respectively), which suggests that the Chinese benefit more from vitamin E treatment.


VENS is the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the efficacy of Vitamin E in treating nondiabetic NASH patients in China.

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Effect of Vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.

Dass AS, Narayana S, Venkatarathnamma PN

J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2018 Jan-Mar;9(1):32-36. doi: 10.4103/japtr.JAPTR_309_17.


Diabetes mellitus (DM) and its complications have been implicated in hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress. Antioxidants can improve glycemic control, lipid profile, and cognitive functions. We assessed the effect of Vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids (OFA) on the above parameters. One hundred patients with type 2 DM receiving metformin 500 mg and glimepiride 1 mg were randomized to receive add-on therapy of Vitamin E 400 mg or OFA once daily for 12 weeks and the third group served as control. Fasting blood sugar (FBS), postprandial blood sugar (PPBS), glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR), lipid profile, and mini-mental state examination were done at baseline and 12 weeks. Eighty-seven patients completed the study. A significant reduction in FBS, PPBS, and HbA1c was observed in all the three groups at 12 weeks. There was significant reduction in total cholesterol and triglycerides (TG) in patients receiving either of the antioxidants and also significant reduction in low-density lipoprotein in patients receiving OFA at 12 weeks compared to baseline. BMI and WHR were significantly increased in control group. Intergroup analysis showed that in patients receiving Vitamin E and OFA, the reduction of FBS, PPBS, and HbA1c were similar. The patients receiving OFA had significant reduction in TG compared to control. There was no significant effect on cognitive function. Vitamin E and OFA had beneficial effects on lipid profile and anthropometric measurements; however, the glycemic control was similar to the patients in control group.

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Effect of vitamin E on reversibility of renal function following discontinuation of colistin in rats: Histological and biochemical investigations.

Ghlissi Z, Hakim A, Mnif H, Kallel R, Zeghal K, Boudawara T, Sahnoun Z

Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl. 2018 Jan-Feb;29(1):10-18. doi: 10.4103/1319-2442.225205.


This study was carried out to evaluate spontaneous renal regeneration after stopping colistin methanesulfonate (CMS), which induces tubular damage, and the curative effect of Vitamin E (vit E) in rats. Animals were given the following: sterile saline (n = 6), 300,000 IU/kg/ day of CMS (n = 24), or 450,000 IU/kg/day of CMS (n = 24) for seven days. Each CMS group was subdivided into four subgroups (n = 6) and sacrificed as follows: (i) 12 h after stopping CMS, (ii) two weeks after stopping CMS, (iii) two weeks after stopping treatment with vit E, and (iv) two weeks after stopping treatment with olive oil. Subsequently, plasma creatinine (pCr), urine N-acetyl-b-D-glucosaminidase (NAG), renal tissue level of malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione reductase (GSH), and renal histology were tested. CMS-induced tubular damage increased the NAG and MDA levels and decreased the SOD and GSH activities. After two weeks of stopping CMS, there was no significant renal recovery. However, treatment with vit E improved tubular regeneration and reduced the biochemical impairments. Two weeks might not be long enough for significant spontaneous renal regeneration. Improvement of renal parameters by vit E could be explained by the reduction of oxidative stress damage.

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Antioxidant Tocols as Radiation Countermeasures (Challenges to be Addressed to Use Tocols as Radiation Countermeasures in Humans).

Nukala U, Thakkar S, Krager KJ, Breen PJ, Compadre CM, Aykin-Burns N

Antioxidants (Basel). 2018 Feb 23;7(2). pii: E33. doi: 10.3390/antiox7020033.


Radiation countermeasures fall under three categories, radiation protectors, radiation mitigators, and radiation therapeutics. Radiation protectors are agents that are administered before radiation exposure to protect from radiation-induced injuries by numerous mechanisms, including scavenging free radicals that are generated by initial radiochemical events. Radiation mitigators are agents that are administered after the exposure of radiation but before the onset of symptoms by accelerating the recovery and repair from radiation-induced injuries. Whereas radiation therapeutic agents administered after the onset of symptoms act by regenerating the tissues that are injured by radiation. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals generated by radiation exposure by donating H atoms. The vitamin E family consists of eight different vitamers, including four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Though alpha-tocopherol was extensively studied in the past, tocotrienols have recently gained attention as radiation countermeasures. Despite several studies performed on tocotrienols, there is no clear evidence on the factors that are responsible for their superior radiation protection properties over tocopherols. Their absorption and bioavailability are also not well understood. In this review, we discuss tocopherol’s and tocotrienol‘s efficacy as radiation countermeasures and identify the challenges to be addressed to develop them into radiation countermeasures for human use in the event of radiological emergencies.

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Preparation of Vitamin E-Containing High-Density Lipoprotein and Its Protective Efficacy on Macrophages

Su M, Wang D, Chang W, Liu L, Cui M, Xu T

Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2018 Feb 22. doi: 10.1089/adt.2017.831. [Epub ahead of print]


Atherosclerosis is a major cause for cardiovascular diseases. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) may reduce atherosclerosis through several different mechanisms. HDL is composed of lipids, cholesterol, cholesteryl esters, triglycerides, and phospholipids, mainly phosphatidylcholine plus specialized proteins called apolipoproteins (apos). In this study, we prepared vitamin E containing HDL (VE-HDL) that contains egg phosphatidylcholine, cholesterol, vitamin E, and two kinds of recombinant human apolipoproteins (rhapo)-rhapoA-I and rhapoE in vitro by the facilitation of cholate. After that, we studied the effects of VE-HDL on foam cell formation, cellular cholesterol efflux, oxidative low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL)-stimulated oxidative stress, and apoptosis of macrophages to evaluate the protective efficacy of VE-HDL on macrophages. As the results showed, we prepared a new type of reconstituent HDL with apolipoproteins and vitamin E for the first time. VE-HDL has protective efficacy on macrophages. It has the prospect of becoming a therapeutic agent on atherosclerosis in the future.

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Neurobiological Correlates of Alpha-Tocopherol Antiepileptogenic Effects and MicroRNA Expression Modulation in a Rat Model of Kainate-Induced Seizures.

Ambrogini P, Albertini MC, Betti M, Galati C, Lattanzi D, Savelli D, Di Palma M, Saccomanno S, Bartolini D, Torquato P, Ruffolo G, Olivieri F, Galli F, Palma E, Minelli A, Cuppini R

Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Feb 22. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-0946-7. [Epub ahead of print]


Seizure-triggered maladaptive neural plasticity and neuroinflammation occur during the latent period as a key underlying event in epilepsy chronicization. Previously, we showed that α-tocopherol (α-T) reduces hippocampal neuroglial activation and neurodegeneration in the rat model of kainic acid (KA)-induced status epilepticus (SE). These findings allowed us to postulate an antiepileptogenic potential for α-T in hippocampal excitotoxicity, in line with clinical evidence showing that α-T improves seizure control in drug-resistant patients. To explore neurobiological correlates of the α-T antiepileptogenic role, rats were injected with such vitamin during the latent period starting right after KA-induced SE, and the effects on circuitry excitability, neuroinflammation, neuronal death, and microRNA (miRNA) expression were investigated in the hippocampus. Results show that in α-T-treated epileptic rats, (1) the number of population spikes elicited by pyramidal neurons, as well as the latency to the onset of epileptiform-like network activity recover to control levels; (2) neuronal death is almost prevented; (3) down-regulation of claudin, a blood-brain barrier protein, is fully reversed; (4) neuroinflammation processes are quenched (as indicated by the decrease of TNF-α, IL-1β, GFAP, IBA-1, and increase of IL-6); (5) miR-146a, miR-124, and miR-126 expression is coherently modulated in hippocampus and serum by α-T. These findings support the potential of a timely intervention with α-T in clinical management of SE to reduce epileptogenesis, thus preventing chronic epilepsy development. In addition, we suggest that the analysis of miRNA levels in serum could provide clinicians with a tool to evaluate disease evolution and the efficacy of α-T therapy in SE.

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Decreasing stress-induced gastritis – The Star

Suffering from stress-induced gastritis? Palm vitamin E may be the solution. Studies on the use of this vitamin in rats have shown that it reduces stress-induced gastritis. The rats, which were pre-treated with palm vitamin E, had gastritis induced in them following the stress of being immersed in water.

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An E-xcellent local oil – The Star

They are a source of energy and nutrients for our bodies, as well as antioxidants that protect our cells against the effects of free radicals and help to reduce inflammation. These are the good oils that should form a small but essential part of our daily diet. While there are many types of oils out there, an excellent one in our very own backyard is palm oil, which contains a high level of vitamin E.

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