Effect of palm oil (Elaeis guineensis) tocotrienols on mesenteric adipose tissue deposition and the expression of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 enzyme (11β-HSD1) in adrenalectomized rats treated with dexamethasone.

Azwan K, Farihah HS, Fairus A, Elvy MR.

Clin Ter. 2015;166(3):99-104.



A study was done to investigate the effect of palm oil (Elaeis guineensis) tocotrienols on (1) rats mesenteric adipose tissue deposition (2) and 11β-HSD1 enzyme expression in mesenteric adipocyte. There is a necessity to find an inhibitor for the 11β-HSD1 enzyme which enhances the proliferation of mesenteric adipocyte tissue therefore curbing the onset of metabolic syndrome.


A total of 35 male Spraque Dawley rats were divided into 5 different groups, i.e., a baseline control group (n=7), a sham operated group (n=7) and three experimental adrenalectomised groups (ADR) (n=21). Each of the experimental ADR group was given intramuscular dexamethasone (Dexa) with a dose of 120 μg/kg after 2 weeks post adrenalectomy and were divided into adrenalectomised control (n=7), Glycyrrhizic acid (GCA) treated (dose=120 mg/kg/day; n=7) and Palm Tocotrienol treated (dose=60 mg/kg/day; n=7) groups. These various treatments were given 6 days a week for 8 weeks via gastric gavage (following 2 weeks of adrenalectomy). Data is expressed as mean ± standard error mean (SEM), compared to each other using one-way analysis-of-variance (ANOVA) followed by Tukey’s post hoc test and then a t-test.


The results show that palm tocotrienol tend to slightly increase mesenteric adipose tissue deposition in rats. However, palm tocotrienolwas also found to have potential in inhibiting the expression of 11β-HSD1 enzyme in mesenteric adipocytes.


This study suggests palm tocotrienol inhibits 11β-HSD1 enzyme expression and activity.

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Muscadine grape seed oil as a novel source of tocotrienols to reduce adipogenesis and adipocyte inflammation.

Zhao L1, Yagiz Y, Xu C, Lu J, Chung S, Marshall MR.

Food Funct. 2015 Jun 15.


Tocotrienols are unsaturated forms of vitamin E previously shown to reduce adipogenesis and adipose inflammation. In this study, muscadine grape seed oil (MGSO) was identified as a novel source of tocotrienols containing significant amounts of α- and γ-tocotrienol (T3) with minor seasonal changes. The aim of this study was to assess the anti-adipogenic and anti-inflammatory potential of MGSO by using primary human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs). Differentiating hASCs were treated with MGSO and compared with rice bran and olive oil. Accumulation of triglyceride was significantly lower in MGSO-treated hASCs than rice bran and olive oils. A tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF) from MGSO was prepared by solid phase extraction and eluted with 15% 1,4-dioxane in hexane. The MGSO-derived TRF treatment significantly reduced mRNA and protein expression that are crucial to adipogenesis (e.g., PPARγ and aP2) in hASCs. Furthermore, TRF from MGSO markedly reduced LPS-induced proinflammatory gene expression in human adipocytes and cytokine secretion to the medium (IL-6 and IL-8). Collectively, our work suggests that MGSO is a stable and reliable natural source of T3 and MGSO may constitute a new dietary strategy to attenuate obesity and its associated adipose inflammation.

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A review of characterization of tocotrienols from plant oils and foods.

Ahsan H, Ahad A, Siddiqui WA.

J Chem Biol. 2015 Jan 20;8(2):45-59.


Tocotrienols, members of the vitamin E family, are natural compounds found in a number of vegetable oils, wheat germ, barley and certain types of nuts and grains. Vegetable oils provide the best sources of these vitamin E forms, particularly palm oil and rice bran oil contain higher amounts oftocotrienols. Other sources of tocotrienols include grape fruit seed oil, oats, hazelnuts, maize, olive oil, buckthorn berry, rye, flax seed oil, poppy seed oil and sunflower oil. Tocotrienols are of four types, viz. alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ) and delta (δ). Unlike tocopherols, tocotrienols are unsaturated and possess an isoprenoid side chain. A number of researchers have developed methods for the extraction, analysis, identification and quantification of different types of vitamin E compounds. This article constitutes an in-depth review of the chemistry and extraction of the unsaturated vitamin E derivatives, tocotrienols, from various sources using different methods. This review article lists the different techniques that are used in the characterization and purification of tocotrienols such as soxhlet and solid-liquid extractions, saponification method, chromatography (thin layer, column chromatography, gas chromatography, supercritical fluid, high performance), capillary electrochromatography and mass spectrometry. Some of the methods described were able to identify one form or type while others could analyse all the analogues of tocotrienolmolecules. Hence, this article will be helpful in understanding the various methods used in the characterization of this lesser known vitamin E variant.

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Location of α-tocopherol and α-tocotrienol to heterogeneous cell membranes and inhibition of production of peroxidized cholesterol in mouse fibroblasts.

Nakamura T, Noma A, Terao J

Springerplus. 2014 Sep 23;3:550.



α-Tocopherol (α-T) and α-tocotrienol (α-T3) are well recognized as lipophilic antioxidants. Nevertheless, there is limited knowledge on their location in heterogeneous cell membranes. We first investigated the distribution of α-T and α-T3 to the cholesterol-rich microdomains (lipid rafts and caveolae) of heterogeneous cell membranes by incubating these antioxidants with cultured mouse fibroblasts.


Levels of cellular uptake for α-T and α-T3 were adjusted to the same order, as that of the latter was much more efficient than that of the former in the cultured cells. After ultracentrifugation, α-T and α-T3 were partitioned to the microdomain fractions. When the distribution of α-T and α-T3 was further confirmed by using methyl-β-cyclodextrin (which removes cholesterol from membranes), α-T was suggested to be distributed to the microdomains (approx. 9% of the total uptake). The same treatment did not affect α-T3 content in the microdomain fractions, indicating that α-T3 is not located in these cholesterol-rich domains. However, α-T and α-T3 significantly inhibited the production of peroxidized cholesterol when cells were exposed to ultraviolet-A light.


These results suggest that α-T and α-T3 can act as membranous antioxidants against photo-irradiated cholesterol peroxidation irrespective of their distribution to cholesterol-rich microdomains.

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Tocotrienols have a nephroprotective action against lipid-induced chronic renal dysfunction in rats

Rashid Khan M, Ahsan H, Siddiqui S, Siddiqui WA

Ren Fail. 2014 Sep 18:1-8


Abstract Vitamin E is the generic term for a group of tocopherols and tocotrienols (T3). Hyperlipidemia has been known to cause progressive chronic renal dysfunction (CRD). Several investigators have reported that T3 have hypolipidemic and nephroprotective activity against free radical-related diseases. This study was conducted to determine if T3 as tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) from palm oil would protect against lipid-induced CRD in rats. For the induction of atherosclerosis and hyperlipidemia, Wistar male rats were fed an atherogenic diet containing 1.25% cholesterol, 0.5% cholic acid and 21% beef tallow (42.6% calories from fat). The atherogenic diet was given for 14 weeks to induce atherosclerosis. The control rats were given normal rat chow and drug control animals treated with TRF (100 mg/kg bw; orally). The first group was taken as disease control in which the animals were left untreated and given normal rat chow for six weeks, while the second group was treated with 100 mg TRF/kg bw. Atherosclerosis and renal functions were evaluated after six weeks of TRF treatment. Feeding an atherogenic diet to rats for 14 weeks resulted in dyslipidemia and impaired renal functions with decreased glomerular filtration rate. The treatment with TRF significantly reduced dyslipidemia and inhibited the development of CRD caused by atherogenic factors. These findings show that low-dose treatment of TRF may provide significant health benefits in the prevention of lipid-induced CRD. The study suggests that TRF is effective in preventing lipid-induced CRD.

Distribution of Tocopherols and Tocotrienols in Guinea Pig Tissues Following Parenteral Lipid Emulsion Infusion.

Xu Z, Harvey KA, Pavlina TM, Zaloga GP, Siddiqui RA

J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2014 Aug 28

Abstract:  Tocopherols and tocotrienols possess vitamin E activity and function as the major lipid-soluble antioxidants in the human body. Commercial lipid emulsions are composed of different oils and supply different amounts of vitamin E. The objective of this study was to measure all 8 vitamin E homologs within 4 different commercial lipid emulsions and evaluate their distribution in guinea pig tissues. Materials and Methods: The distribution of vitamin E homologs within plasma and guinea pig tissues was determined using a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system. Lipid hydroperoxides in lipid emulsions were determined using a commercial kit (Cayman Chemical Company, Ann Arbor, MI), and malondialdehyde tissue levels were determined using an HPLC system. Results: The lipid emulsions contained variable amounts of tocopherols, which were significantly different between emulsions. Tocotrienols were present at very low concentrations (≤0.3%). We found no correlation between the amount of vitamin E present in the lipid emulsions and lipid peroxidation. Hydroperoxides were the lowest with an olive oil-based emulsion and highest with a fish oil emulsion. The predominant vitamin E homolog in guinea pig tissues was α-tocopherol. No tissues had detectable levels of tocotrienols. Vitamin E levels (primarily α-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol) were highly variable among organ tissues. Plasma levels were a poor reflection of most tissue levels. Conclusion: Vitamin E levels within different lipid emulsions and plasma/tissues are highly variable, and no one tissue or plasma sample serves as a good proxy for levels in other tissues. All study emulsions were well tolerated and did not significantly increase systemic lipid peroxidation.

Gamma-tocotrienol attenuates high fat diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance by inhibiting adipose inflammation and M1 macrophage recruitment.

Zhao L, Kang I, Fang X, Wang W, Lee MA, Hollins RR, Marshall MR, Chung S.

Background and Objective:We have previously demonstrated that gamma tocotrienol (γT3) potently inhibits adipocyte hyperplasia in human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs). In this study, our objective was to investigate the γT3 effects on early onset obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance in vivo.Methods:Young C57BL/6 J mice were fed a high fat (HF) diet supplemented with 0.05% γT3 for 4 weeks. The concentrations of γT3 in plasma and adipose tissue were measured by HPLC. Effects of γT3 on body weight gain, adipose volume, plasma levels of fasting glucose, insulin (ELISA), pro-inflammatory cytokines (mouse cytokine array), insulin signaling (western blotting), and gene expression (quantitative real-time PCR, qPCR) in liver and adipose tissue were examined. Influences of γT3 on [3H]-2-deoxyglucose uptake and LPS-mediated NFκB signaling (western blotting) were assessed in hASCs. Effects of γT3 on macrophage M1/M2 activation were investigated by qPCR in mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages.Results:After a 4 week treatment, γT3 accumulated in adipose tissue and reduced HF diet-induced weight gain in epididymal fat, mesenteric fat, and liver. Compared to HF diet-fed mice, HF+γT3-fed mice were associated with 1) decreased plasma levels of fasting glucose, insulin, and proinflammatory cytokines, 2) improved glucose tolerance, and 3) enhanced insulin signaling in adipose tissue. There were substantial decreases in macrophage specific markers, and MCP1 indicating that γT3 reduced recruitment of adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs). Additionally, γT3 treatment in human adipocytes resulted in 1) activation of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and 2) a significant suppression of MAP kinase and NFκB activation. In parallel, γT3 treatment led to a reduction of LPS-mediated M1 macrophage polarization.Conclusion:Our results demonstrated that γT3 ameliorates HF diet-mediated obesity and insulin resistance by inhibiting systemic and adipose inflammation, as well as ATM recruitment.

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Tocotrienol modulates crucial lipid metabolism-related genes in differentiated 3T3-L1 preadipocytes.

Burdeos GC, Nakagawa K, Abe T, Kimura F, Miyazawa T.

Obesity and other lipid metabolism-related diseases have become more prevalent in recent years due to drastic lifestyle changes and dietary patterns. Unsaturated vitamin E, tocotrienol (T3), represents one of the most fascinating naturally occurring compounds that has the potential to influence a broad range of mechanisms underlying abnormal lipid metabolism processes. However, its efficacy and mechanism have been uncertain due to scarcity of data concerning the effect of T3 on lipid metabolism. In this study, we report a series of fascinating experimental findings on how T3 affects lipid metabolism in differentiated 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Treatment with T3 (25 μM), especially δ and γ isomers, inhibited the accumulation of triglyceride and lipid droplets in differentiated 3T3-L1 cells. This manifestation was supported by mRNA and protein expression of crucial lipid metabolism-related genes. The present study provides a novel set of data pertaining to the possibility of T3 as an anti-metabolic disorder agent.

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Vitamin E tocotrienol supplementation improves lipid profiles in chronic hemodialysis patients

Daud ZA, Tubie B, Sheyman M, Osia R, Adams J, Tubie S, Khosla P.

Vasc Health Risk Manag . 2013;9:747-61. doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S51710. Epub 2013 Nov 28.



Chronic hemodialysis patients experience accelerated atherosclerosis contributed to by dyslipidemia, inflammation, and an impaired antioxidant system. Vitamin E tocotrienols possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, the impact of dietary intervention with Vitamin E tocotrienols is unknown in this population.


A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel trial was conducted in 81 patients undergoing chronic hemodialysis. Subjects were provided daily with capsules containing either vitamin E tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) (180 mg tocotrienols, 40 mg tocopherols) or placebo (0.48 mg tocotrienols, 0.88 mg tocopherols). Endpoints included measurements of inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein and interleukin 6), oxidative status (total antioxidant power and malondialdehyde), lipid profiles (plasma total cholesterol, triacylglycerols, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), as well as cholesteryl-ester transfer protein activity and apolipoprotein A1.


TRF supplementation did not impact any nutritional, inflammatory, or oxidative status biomarkers over time when compared with the baseline within the group (one-way repeated measures analysis of variance) or when compared with the placebo group at a particular time point (independent t-test). However, the TRF supplemented group showed improvement in lipid profiles after 12 and 16 weeks of intervention when compared with placebo at the respective time points. Normalized plasma triacylglycerols (cf baseline) in the TRF group were reduced by 33 mg/dL (P=0.032) and 36 mg/dL (P=0.072) after 12 and 16 weeks of intervention but no significant improvement was seen in the placebo group. Similarly, normalized plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was higher (P<0.05) in the TRF group as compared with placebo at both week 12 and week 16. The changes in the TRF group at week 12 and week 16 were associated with higher plasma apolipoprotein A1 concentration (P<0.02) and lower cholesteryl-ester transfer protein activity (P<0.001).


TRF supplementation improved lipid profiles in this study of maintenance hemodialysis patients. A multi-centered trial is warranted to confirm these observations.

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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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