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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Gamma-tocotrienol reduces the triacylglycerol level in rat primary hepatocytes through regulation of fatty acid metabolism

Muto C, Yachi R, Aoki Y, et al

J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2013 Jan;52(1):32-7

The present study was carried out to investigate the effect of vitamin E analogs, especially gamma-tocotrienol (gamma-T3), on hepatic TG accumulation and enzymes related to fatty acid metabolism in three types of rat primary hepatocytes: (1) normal hepatocytes, (2) hepatocytes incubated in the presence of palmitic acid (PA), and (3) hepatocytes with fat accumulation. Our results showed that gamma-T3 significantly reduced the TG content of normal hepatocytes. gamma-T3 also increased the expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1A) mRNA, and tended to reduce that of sterol regulatory element binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) mRNA. In addition, gamma-T3 markedly suppressed the gene expression of both C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) and SREBP-1c induced by PA. As these two genes are located downstream of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, their suppression by gamma-T3 might result from a decrease of ER stress. Moreover, gamma-T3 suppressed the expression of interleukin 1beta (IL-1beta), which lies downstream of CHOP signaling. Taken together, our data suggest that gamma-T3 might prevent hepatic steatosis and ameliorate ER stress and subsequent inflammation in the liver.

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Tocotrienols Reverse Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Liver Changes in High Carbohydrate, High Fat Diet-Fed Rats

Weng-Yew Wong, Hemant Poudyal, Leigh C. Ward and Lindsay Brown

Nutrients 2012, 4, 1527-1541; doi:10.3390/nu4101527


Tocotrienols have been reported to improve lipid profiles, reduce atherosclerotic lesions, decrease blood glucose and glycated haemoglobin concentrations, normalise blood pressure in vivo and inhibit adipogenesis in vitro, yet their role in the metabolic syndrome has not been investigated. In this study, we investigated the effects of palm tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) on high carbohydrate, high fat diet-induced metabolic, cardiovascular and liver dysfunction in rats. Rats fed a high carbohydrate, high fat diet for 16 weeks developed abdominal obesity, hypertension, impaired glucose and insulin tolerance with increased ventricular stiffness, lower systolic function and reduced liver function. TRF treatment improved ventricular function, attenuated cardiac stiffness and hypertension, and improved glucose and insulin tolerance, with reduced left ventricular collagen deposition and inflammatory cell infiltration. TRF improved liver structure and function with reduced plasma liver enzymes, inflammatory cell infiltration, fat vacuoles and balloon hepatocytes. TRF reduced plasma free fatty acid and triglyceride concentrations but only omental fat deposition was decreased in the abdomen. These results suggest that tocotrienols protect the heart and liver, and improve plasma glucose and lipid profiles with minimal changes in abdominal obesity in this model of human metabolic syndrome.

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Suppression of Nitric Oxide Production and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Seniors and Hypercholesterolemic Subjects by a Combination of Polyphenols and Vitamins

Qureshi AA, Khan DA, Mahjabeen W, Papasian CJ, Qureshi N.

J Clin Exp Cardiolog. 2012 Jun 7;S5:8.

Background: Dysregulated immune function associated with ageing has been implicated in a variety of human diseases. We have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol, pterostilbene, morin hydrate, quercetin, δ-tocotrienol, riboflavinin a variety of experimental animal models, and determined that these compounds act by inhibiting proteasome activity.

Aims: To determine whether serum nitric oxide (NO) levels increase with age in humans, and whether the combined cholesterol-lowering and inflammation-reducing properties of resveratrol, pterostilbene, Morin hydrate, quercetin, δ-tocotrienol, riboflavin, and nicotinic acid would reduce cardiovascular risk factors in humans when used as nutritional supplements with, or without, other dietary changes.

Methods: Elderly human subjects were stratified into two groups based on total serum cholesterol levels. Initial total serum cholesterol levels were normal and elevated in Group 1 and 2 subjects, respectively. Baseline serum NO, C-reactive protein (CRP), γ-glutamyltransferase (γ-GT) activity, uric acid, total antioxidant status (TAS), total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides levels were established over a four week period. Group 1 subjects subsequently received nutritional supplementation with one of two different combinations (NS-7 = 25 mg of each, resveratrol, pterostilbene, quercetin, δ-tocotrienol, nicotinic acid, morin hydrate or NS-6 = morin hydrate replaced with quercetin, 50 mg/capsule). Group 2 subjects also received these nutritional supplements (two capsules/d), but an AHA Step-1 diet was also implemented. After these interventions were administered for four weeks, the above parameters were re-measured and changes from baseline levels determined. Nitric acid (NO) levels in children, young adults, and seniors were also compared.

Results: The key results of the current study were: 1) that serum NO levels were significantly increased in seniors compared to both children (~80%) and young adults (~65%); 2) that the intake of two capsules/d of NS-7 or NS-6 for four weeks significantly (P < 0.05) decreased serum NO (39%, 24%), CRP (19%, 21%), uric acid (6%, 12%) levels, and γ-GT activity (8%, 6%), respectively in free-living healthy seniors; 3) that serum NO (36%, 29%), CRP (29%, 20%), uric acid (6%, 9%) γ-GT activity (9%, 18%), total cholesterol (8%, 11%), LDL-cholesterol (10%, 13%), and triglycerides (16%, 23%) levels were significantly (P < 0.02) decreased in hypercholesterolemic subjects restricted to AHA Step-1 diet plus intake of SN-7 or SN-6 (two capsules/d), respectively; 4) that TAS was increased (3%, 9%; P < 0.05) in free-living healthy seniors receiving NS-7 or NS-6 alone, and in hypercholesterolemic subjects plus AHA Step-1 diet (20%, 12%; P < 0.02) with either of the combinations tested.

Conclusion: Serum NO levels are elevated in elderly humans compared to children or young adults. Diet supplementation with combinations of resveratrol, pterostilbene, morin hydrate, quercetin, δ-tocotrienol, riboflavin, and nicotinic acid reduce cardiovascular risk factors in humans when used as nutritional supplements with, or without, other dietary changes.

Tocotrienol attenuates triglyceride accumulation in HepG2 cells and F344 rats

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

Lipids. 2012 May;47(5):471-81. Epub 2012 Feb 26.

Tocotrienol (T3) is an important phytonutrient found in rice bran and palm oil. T3 has gained much interest for lipid lowering effects, especially for cholesterol (Cho) by inhibiting 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase. Also, usefulness of T3 in improving triglyceride (TG) profiles has been suggested, but its efficacy and mechanism have been unclear. We investigated how T3 decreases TG concentration in cultured cells and animals. In a cell culture study, human hepatoma cells (HepG2) were incubated in a control or a fat (1 mM oleic acid)-loaded medium containing γ-T3 for 24 h. We found that 10-15 μM γ-T3 inhibited cellular TG accumulation significantly, especially in the fat-loaded medium. This manifestation was supported by mRNA and protein expressions of fatty acid synthase, carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1, and cytochrome P450 3A4. In concordance with these results, rice bran T3 supplementation to F344 rats (5 or 10 mg T3/day/rat) receiving a high fat diet for 3 weeks significantly reduced TG and the oxidative stress marker (phospholipid hydroperoxides, PLOOH) in the liver and blood plasma. T3 supplementation did not show changes in the Cho level. These results provided new information and the mechanism of the TG-lowering effect of T3. The lipid lowering effects of dietary T3 might be mediated by the reduction of TG synthesis.

Tocotrienols confer resistance to ischemia in hypercholesterolemic hearts: Insight with genomics

Das S, Mukherjee S, Lekli I, Gurusamy N, Bardhan J, Raychoudhury U, Chakravarty R, Banerji S, Knowlton AA, Das DK.

Mol Cell Biochem. 2012 Jan;360(1-2):35-45. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Most clinical trials with vitamin E could not lower cholesterol and thus, have been deemed unsuccessful. Recently, tocotrienols, isomers of vitamin E have been found to lower LDL levels. To explore if tocotrienols could be the drug target for vitamin E, rabbits were kept on cholesterol diet for 60 days supplemented with tocotrienol-α, tocotrienol-δ, and tocotrienol-γ for the last 30 days. The serum cholesterol levels (in mmol/l) were 24.4 (tocotrienol-α), 34.9 (tocotrienol-δ), 19.8 (tocotrienol-γ) vs. 39.7 (control). Left ventricular function including aortic flow and developed pressure exhibited significantly improved recovery with tocotrienol-γ and -α, but not with tocotrienol-δ. The myocardial infarct size showed a similar pattern: 33% (tocotrienol-α), 23% (tocotrienol-γ), and 47% (tocotrienol-δ). To examine the molecular mechanisms of cardioprotective effects, gene expression profile was determined using Atlas 1.2/1.2II followed by determination of gene profiles using PedQuest 8.3 software. Based on genomic profiles, the following cholesterol-related proteins were examined: FABP, TGF-β (cholesterol suppresses TGF-β), ET-1 (increased by hypercholesterolemia), SPOT 14 (linked with hypercholesterolemia), and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2 and MMP9 (cholesterol regulates MMP2 and MMP9 expression) in the heart. Consistent with the cardioprotective effects of tocotrienol-α and -γ, these two isomers reduced ET-1, decreased MMP2 and MM9, increased TGF-β and reduced SPOT 14, while tocotrienol-δ had no effects. The results of the present study demonstrate that the two isomers of tocotrienols, α and γ, render the hypercholesterolemic hearts resistant to ischemic reperfusion injury by lowering several hypercholesterolemic proteins including MMP2, MMP9, ET-1, and SPOT 14 and upregulating TGF-β.

Alpha-tocotrienol is the most abundant tocotrienol isomer circulated in plasma and lipoproteins after postprandial tocotrienol-rich vitamin E supplementation

Fairus S, Nor RM, Cheng HM, Sundram K.

Nutr J. 2012 Jan 17;11:5.

Introduction: Tocotrienols (T3) and tocopherols (T), both members of the natural vitamin E family have unique biological functions in humans. T3 are detected in circulating human plasma and lipoproteins, although at concentrations significantly lower than α-tocopherol (α-T). T3, especially α-T3 is known to be neuropotective at nanomolar concentrations and this study evaluated the postprandial fate of T3 and α-T in plasma and lipoproteins.

Methods: Ten healthy volunteers (5 males and 5 females) were administered a single dose of vitamin E [526 mg palm tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) or 537 mg α-T] after 7-d pre-conditioning on a T3-free diet. Blood was sampled at baseline (fasted) and 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 24 h after supplementation. Concentrations of T and T3 isomers in plasma, triacylglycerol-rich particles (TRP), LDL, and HDL were measured at each postprandial interval.

Results: After TRF supplementation, plasma α-T3 and γ-T3 peaked at 5 h (α-T3: 4.74 ± 1.69 μM; γ-T3: 2.73 ± 1.27 μM). δ-T3 peaked earlier at 4 h (0.53 ± 0.25 μM). In contrast, α-T peaked at 6 h (30.13 ± 2.91 μM) and 8 h (37.80 ± 3.59 μM) following supplementation with TRF and α-T, respectively. α-T was the major vitamin E isomer detected in plasma, TRP, LDL, and HDL even after supplementation with TRF (composed of 70% T3). No T3 were detected during fasted states. T3 are detected postprandially only after TRF supplementation and concentrations were significantly lower than α-T.

Conclusion: Bio-discrimination between vitamin E isomers in humans reduces the rate of T3 absorption and affects their incorporation into lipoproteins. Although low absorption of T3 into circulation may impact some of their physiological functions in humans, T3 have biological functions well below concentration noted in this study.

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