Protection by tocotrienols against hypercholesterolaemia and atheroma

Teoh MK, Chong JM, Mohamed J, Phang KS.

Med J Malaysia. 1994 Sep;49(3):255-62.

Antioxidants such as tocotrienols may protect against atherosclerosis since tissue injury from free radicals is a final common pathway of damage in arterial disease. In this study, the effects of tocotrienols on serum cholesterol, lipid peroxides, and aorta atheroma were assessed in rabbits fed an atherogenic diet for 12 weeks. Tocotrienols were more effective than tocopherols in preventing increases in serum LDL (p = 0.03) and total cholesterol (p = 0.008) levels in the cholesterol-fed rabbits. Elevation of serum lipid peroxides was effectively suppressed by tocotrienols (p = 0.01). Both tocopherols and tocotrienols offered significant protection against atheroma in the rabbit aorta, but tocotrienols had a stronger hypolipidaemic effect.

Inhibitors of cholesterol biosynthesis. 2. Hypocholesterolemic and antioxidant activities of benzopyran and tetrahydronaphthalene analogues of the tocotrienols

Pearce BC, Parker RA, Deason ME, Dischino DD, Gillespie E, Qureshi AA, Volk K, Wright JJ.

J Med Chem. 1994 Feb 18;37(4):526-41.

Tocotrienols exhibit antioxidant and cholesterol-biosynthesis-inhibitory activities and may be of value as antiatherosclerotic agents. The mechanism of their hypolipidemic action involves posttranscriptional suppression of HMG-CoA reductase (HMGR) in a manner mimicking the action of putative non-sterol feedback inhibitors. The in vitro cholesterol-biosynthesis-inhibitory and HMGR-suppressive activities in HepG2 cells of an expanded series of benzopyran and tetrahydronaphthalene isosteres and the hypocholesterolemic activity of selected compounds assessed in orally dosed chickens are presented. Preliminary antioxidant data of these compounds have been obtained using cyclic voltammetry and Cu-induced LDL oxidation assays. The farnesyl side chain and the methyl/hydroxy substitution pattern of gamma-tocotrienol deliver a high level of HMGR suppression, unsurpassed by synthetic analogues of the present study. In orally dosed chickens, 8-bromotocotrienol (4o), 2-desmethyltocotrienol (4t), and the tetrahydronaphthalene derivative 35 exhibit a greater degree of LDL cholesterol lowering than the natural tocotrienols.

Gamma-Tocotrienol as a hypocholesterolemic and antioxidant agent in rats fed atherogenic diets

Watkins T, Lenz P, Gapor A, Struck M, Tomeo A, Bierenbaum M.

Lipids. 1993 Dec;28(12):1113-8.

This study was designed to determine whether incorporation of gamma-tocotrienol or alpha-tocopherol in an atherogenic diet would reduce the concentration of plasma cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acid peroxides, and attenuate platelet aggregability in rats. For six weeks, male Wistar rats (n = 90) were fed AIN76A semisynthetic test diets containing cholesterol (2% by weight), providing fat as partially hydrogenated soybean oil (20% by weight), menhaden oil (20%) or corn oil (2%). Feeding the ration with menhaden oil resulted in the highest concentrations of plasma cholesterol, low and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and fatty acid hydroperoxides. Consumption of the ration containing gamma-tocotrienol (50 mg/kg) and alpha-tocopherol (500 mg/kg) for six weeks led to decreased plasma lipid concentrations. Plasma cholesterol, low and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides each decreased significantly (P < 0.001). Plasma thiobarbituric acid reactive substances decreased significantly (P < 0.01), as did the fatty acid hydroperoxides (P < 0.05), when the diet contained both chromanols. Supplementation with gamma-tocotrienol resulted in similar, though quantitatively smaller, decrements in these plasma values. Plasma alpha-tocopherol concentrations were lowest in rats fed menhaden oil without either chromanol. Though plasma alpha-tocopherol did not rise with gamma-tocotrienol supplementation at 50 mg/kg, gamma-tocotrienol at 100 mg/kg of ration spared plasma alpha-tocopherol, which rose from 0.60 +/- 0.2 to 1.34 +/- 0.4 mg/dL (P < 0.05). The highest concentration of alpha-tocopherol was measured in plasma of animals fed a ration supplemented with alpha-tocopherol at 500 mg/kg.

Tocotrienols regulate cholesterol production in mammalian cells by post-transcriptional suppression of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase

Parker RA, Pearce BC, Clark RW, Gordon DA, Wright JJ.

J Biol Chem. 1993 May 25;268(15):11230-8.


Tocotrienols are natural farnesylated analogues of tocopherols which decrease hepatic cholesterol production and reduce plasma cholesterol levels in animals. For several cultured cell types, incubation with gamma-tocotrienol inhibited the rate of [14C]acetate but not [3H] mevalonate incorporation into cholesterol in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, with 50% inhibition at approximately 2 microM and maximum approximately 80% inhibition observed within 6 h in HepG2 cells. 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase total activity and protein levels assayed by Western blot were reduced concomitantly with the decrease in cholesterol synthesis. In HepG2 cells, gamma-tocotrienol suppressed reductase despite strong blockade by inhibitors at several steps in the pathway, suggesting that isoprenoid flux is not required for the regulatory effect. HMG-CoA reductase protein synthesis rate was moderately diminished (57% of control), while the degradation rate was increased 2.4-fold versus control (t1/2 declined from 3.73 to 1.59 h) as judged by [35S]methionine pulse-chase/immunoprecipitation analysis of HepG2 cells treated with 10 microM gamma-tocotrienol. Under these conditions, the decrease in reductase protein levels greatly exceeded the minor decrease in mRNA (23 versus 76% of control, respectively), and the low density lipoprotein receptor protein was augmented. In contrast, 25-hydroxycholesterol strongly cosuppressed HMG-CoA reductase protein and mRNA levels and the low density lipoprotein receptor protein. Thus, tocotrienols influence the mevalonate pathway in mammalian cells by post-transcriptional suppression of HMG-CoA reductase, and appear to specifically modulate the intracellular mechanism for controlled degradation of the reductase protein, an activity that mirrors the actions of the putative non-sterol isoprenoid regulators derived from mevalonate.

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Tocotrienol and fatty acid composition of barley oil and their effects on lipid metabolism

Wang L, Newman RK, Newman CW, Jackson LL, Hofer PJ.

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1993 Jan;43(1):9-17.

Barley oil was extracted with hexane from the grain of a high oil waxy hull-less barley. Twelve male broiler chicks were fed corn-based diets with either 10% barley oil, 10% corn oil or 10% margarine ad libitum for ten days. Total plasma cholesterol concentration of the chicks fed barley oil was 34% lower (p < 0.05) than that of the chicks fed margarine. Plasma low density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration of chicks fed barley oil was 53% and 59% lower (p < 0.05) than those of chicks fed corn oil and margarine, respectively. Plasma high density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride concentration of the barley oil group were similar to those of the margarine but higher (p < 0.05) than those of the corn oil group. Chicks fed the barley oil gained more (p < 0.05) body weight than those fed the corn oil and margarine. Barley oil had an effect in suppression of TC and LDLC in chicks compared to margarine. Barley oil suppressed LDLC but not HDLC in chicks compared to corn oil. A greater weight gain of the chicks fed barley oil suggested that these chicks had normally functioning digestion and absorption. alpha-Tocotrienol and gamma-tocotrienol content of the barley oil were 24 and 17 times greater, respectively, than those observed in the corn oil, while the same fractions were not detectable in the margarine. Polyunsaturated fatty acid content of the barley oil was more than threefold that of margarine. These data suggest that alpha-tocotrienol and polyunsaturated fatty acids are hypocholesterolemic components in barley oil.

Hypocholesterolemic activity of synthetic and natural tocotrienols

Pearce BC, Parker RA, Deason ME, Qureshi AA, Wright JJ.

J Med Chem. 1992 Oct 2;35(20):3595-606.

Tocotrienols are farnesylated benzopyran natural products that exhibit hypocholesterolemic activity in vitro and in vivo. The mechanism of their hypolipidemic action involves posttranscriptional suppression of HMG-CoA reductase by a process distinct from other known inhibitors of cholesterol biosynthesis. An efficient synthetic route to tocotrienols and their isolation from palm oil distillate using an improved procedure is presented. gamma-Tocotrienol exhibits a 30-fold greater activity toward cholesterol biosynthesis inhibition compared to alpha-tocotrienol in HepG2 cells in vitro. The synthetic (racemic) and natural (chiral) tocotrienols exhibit nearly identical cholesterol biosynthesis inhibition and HMG-CoA reductase suppression properties as demonstrated in vitro and in vivo.

Recycling of vitamin E in human low density lipoproteins

Kagan VE, Serbinova EA, Forte T, Scita G, Packer L.

J Lipid Res. 1992 Mar;33(3):385-97.

Oxidative modification of low density lipoproteins (LDL) and their unrestricted scavenger receptor-dependent uptake is believed to account for cholesterol deposition in macrophage-derived foam cells. It has been suggested that vitamin E that is transported by LDL plays a critical role in protecting against LDL oxidation. We hypothesize that the maintenance of sufficiently high vitamin E concentrations in LDL can be achieved by reducing its chromanoxyl radicals, i.e., by vitamin E recycling. In this study we demonstrate that: i) chromanoxyl radicals of endogenous vitamin E and of exogenously added alpha-tocotrienol, alpha-tocopherol or its synthetic homologue with a 6-carbon side-chain, chromanol-alpha-C6, can be directly generated in human LDL by ultraviolet (UV) light, or by interaction with peroxyl radicals produced either by an enzymic oxidation system (lipoxygenase + linolenic acid) or by an azo-initiator, 2,2′-azo-bis(2,4-dimethylvaleronitrile) (AMVN; ii) ascorbate can recycle endogenous vitamin E and exogenously added chromanols by direct reduction of chromanoxyl radicals in LDL; iii) dihydrolipoic acid is not efficient in direct reduction of chromanoxyl radicals but recycles vitamin E by synergistically interacting with ascorbate (reduces dehydroascorbate thus maintaining the steady-state concentration of ascorbate); and iv) beta-carotene is not active in vitamin E recycling but may itself be protected against oxidative destruction by the reductants of chromanoxyl radicals. We suggest that the recycling of vitamin E and other phenolic antioxidants by plasma reductants may be an important mechanism for the enhanced antioxidant protection of LDL.

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Nutritional and biochemical aspects of the hypolipidemic action of rice bran oil: A review

Rukmini C, Raghuram TC.

J Am Coll Nutr. 1991 Dec;10(6):593-601.

In this paper, we review the effects of rice bran oil (RBO), an unconventional oil recently introduced onto the Indian market for human use. RBO contains oleic acid (38.4%), linoleic acid (34.4%), and linolenic acid (2.2%) as unsaturated fatty acids, and palmitic (21.5%) and stearic (2.9%) acids as saturated fatty acids. The unsaponifiable fraction (4.2%) has total tocopherols (81.3 mg%), gamma-oryzanol (1.6%), and squalene (320 mg%). Oryzanol is a mixture of ferulic acid esters of triterpene alcohols such as cycloartenol (CA) (106 mg%) and 24-methylene cycloartanol (494 mg%). Studies on experimental rats demonstrated a hypolipidemic effect of RBO. The unsaponifiable fraction of RBO lowers cholesterol levels. Feeding phytosterols, CA, and 24-methylene cycloartanol in amounts present in RBO to hypercholesterolemic rats for 8 weeks indicates that CA alone reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels significantly. Endogenous sterol excretion increases in animals given CA. The accumulation of CA in the liver inhibits cholesterol esterase activity, which in turn leads to reduction in circulating cholesterol levels. CA is structurally similar to cholesterol and may compete with the binding sites of cholesterol and sequestrate cholesterol, which is metabolized to its derivatives. RBO, which is rich in tocopherols and tocotrienols, may improve oxidative stability. Tocotrienols inhibit HMG CoA reductase, resulting in hypocholesterolemia. The hypolipidemic effect of RBO has also been established in human subjects. Thus, RBO could be a suitable edible oil for patients with hyperlipidemia.

Lowering of serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic humans by tocotrienols (palmvitee)

Qureshi AA, Qureshi N, Wright JJ, Shen Z, Kramer G, Gapor A, Chong YH, DeWitt G, Ong A, Peterson DM, et al.

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Apr;53(4 Suppl):1021S-1026S.


A double-blind, crossover, 8-wk study was conducted to compare effects of the tocotrienol-enriched fraction of palm oil (200 mg palmvitee capsules/day) with those of 300 mg corn oil/d on serum lipids of hypercholesterolemic human subjects (serum cholesterol 6.21-8.02 mmol/L). Concentrations of serum total cholesterol (-15%), LDL cholesterol (-8%), Apo B (-10%), thromboxane (-25%), platelet factor 4 (-16%), and glucose (-12%) decreased significantly only in the 15 subjects given palmvitee during the initial 4 wk. The crossover confirmed these actions of palmvitee. There was a carry over effect of palmvitee. Serum cholesterol concentrations of seven hypercholesterolemic subjects (greater than 7.84 mmol/L) decreased 31% during a 4-wk period in which they were given 200 mg gamma-tocotrienol/d. This indicates that gamma-tocotrienol may be the most potent cholesterol inhibitor in palmvitee capsules. The results of this pilot study are very encouraging.

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Dietary tocotrienols reduce concentrations of plasma cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, thromboxane B2, and platelet factor 4 in pigs with inherited hyperlipidemias

Qureshi AA, Qureshi N, Hasler-Rapacz JO, Weber FE, Chaudhary V, Crenshaw TD, Gapor A, Ong AS, Chong YH, Peterson D, et al.

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Apr;53(4 Suppl):1042S-1046S.

Normolipemic and genetically hypercholesterolemic pigs of defined lipoprotein genotype were fed a standard diet supplemented with 50 micrograms/gtocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) isolated from palm oil. Hypercholesterolemic pigs fed the TRF supplement showed a 44% decrease in total serum cholesterol, a 60% decrease in low-density-lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, and significant decreases in levels of apolipoprotein B (26%), thromboxane-B2 (41%), and platelet factor 4 (PF4; 29%). The declines in thromboxane B2 and PF4 suggest that TRF has a marked protective effect on the endothelium and platelet aggregation. The effect of the lipid-lowering diet persisted only in the hypercholesterolemic swine after 8 wk feeding of the control diet. These results support observations from previous studies on lowering plasma cholesterol in animals by tocotrienols, which are naturally occurring compounds in grain and palm oils and may have some effect on lowering plasma cholesterol in humans.

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