High cholesterol diet activates ER stress mediated apoptosis in testes tissue: Role of α-tocopherol

Erdi Sozen, Tugce Demirel-Yalciner, M Kutay Koroglu, Merve Acikel Elmas, Feriha Ercan, Nesrin Kartal Ozer

IUBMB Life . 2021 Aug 4. doi: 10.1002/iub.2535. Online ahead of print.


The seminiferous tubules where spermatogenesis occurs are enveloped and protected by the Sertoli cells to support germ cells undergoing meiosis to produce haploid gametes. Clearly, induction of apoptosis in seminiferous tubules leads to abnormalities in spermatogenesis and male infertility. Studies demonstrated that increased hyperlipidemia impairs male infertility and spermatogenesis by enhancing seminiferous tubules apoptosis. However, molecular mechanisms underlying high-cholesterol-mediated testicular damage remain poorly elucidated. In this scope, we established a rabbit model and investigated the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress on high cholesterol diet induced seminiferous tubule apoptosis. Histopatological examinations revealed increased seminifer tubule apoptosis in testes of rabbits fed high cholesterol diet. In addition, phosphorylated forms of IRE1 and PERK, two well-identified markers of ER stress, were significantly induced in accordance with high cholesterol diet. High cholesterol diet also exhibited CHOP induction in testes, indicating increased ER stress related apoptosis. Supplementation of α-tocopherol significantly attenuated cholesterol mediated ER stress, and restored seminiferous tubules apoptosis. Taken together, our findings suggest that α-tocopherol might be capable to reduce testicular damage via ameliorating histopatological features and inhibiting seminiferous tubules apoptosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.

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Several epidemiological studies have demonstrated that high vitamin E intakes are related to a reduced risk of non-communicable diseases, while other dietary antioxidants are not, suggesting that vitamin E exerts specific healthy functions in addition to its antioxidant role. In this regard, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), one of the most consumed vegetables of the whole world population, is an important source of both tocopherols andtocotrienols. However, vitamin E content may strongly depend on several biotic and abiotic factors. In this review we will debate the elements affecting the synthesis of tocopherols and tocotrienols in tomato fruit, such as environmental conditions, genotype, fruit maturity level, and the impact of classical processing methods, such as pasteurization and lyophilization on the amount of these compounds. In addition we will analyze the specific vitamin E mechanisms of action in humans and the consequent functional effects derived from its dietary intake. Finally, we will examine the currently available molecular techniques used to increase the content of vitamin E in tomato fruit, starting from the identification of genetic determinants and quantitative trait loci that control the accumulation of these metabolites.

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Characterisation of fatty acid, carotenoid, tocopherol/tocotrienol compositions and antioxidant activities in seeds of three Chenopodium quinoa Willd. genotypes.

Tang Y, Li X, Chen PX, Zhang B, Hernandez M, Zhang H, Marcone MF, Liu R, Tsao R.

Food Chem. 2015 May 1;174:502-8


Composition of fatty acids, tocopherols, tocotrienols, and carotenoids, and their contribution to antioxidant activities were investigated in seeds of three coloured quinoa cultivars (white, red and black). The major components and individual compounds were significantly different, and their concentrations were higher in darker seeds (p<0.05). The oil yield was 6.58-7.17% which contained predominantly unsaturated fatty acids (89.42%). The ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid was ca. 6/1. The total tocopherol content ranged from 37.49 to 59.82μg/g and mainly consisted of γ-tocopherol. Trace amount of α- and β-tocotrienols was also found. Black quinoa had the highest vitamin E followed by red and white quinoas. Carotenoids, mainly trans-lutein (84.7-85.6%) and zeaxanthin were confirmed for the first time in quinoa seeds, and the concentration was also the highest in black seeds. The antioxidant activities of lipophilic extracts were positively correlated with polyunsaturated fatty acids, total carotenoids and total tocopherols.

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γ-Tocotrienol Attenuates Triglyceride through Effect on Lipogenic Gene Expressions in Mouse Hepatocellular Carcinoma Hepa 1-6

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

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol, 2013; 59(2):148-151,


Vitamin E is the generic name for tocopherol (Toc) and tocotrienol (T3), which have saturated and unsaturated side chains, respectively. Such differences allow T3 to be different from Toc in terms of their functions. T3 has been known to attenuate cholesterol (Cho) level by inhibiting 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoAR). Recent reports also showed the efficacy of T3 in improving triglyceride (TG) profiles in both in vivo and in vitro studies. However the mechanism involved in this biological activity is still unclear and needs to be further investigated. In the present study, we elucidated the effect of γ-T3 on lipid levels and lipogenic gene expressions in mouse hepatocellular carcinoma Hepa 1-6. γ-T3 showed attenuation of TG through effect on fatty acid synthas, sterol regulatory element-binding transcription factor 1, stearoyl CoA desaturase 1, and carnitine palmitoyl. In contrast, the Cho level remained unchanged. These results expanded our previous finding of lipid-lowering effects of T3, especially for TG. Therefore, T3 is a potential lipid-lowering compound candidate with realistic prospects for its use as a therapy for lipid-related diseases in humans.

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A recent study from our laboratory indicated the cardioprotective ability of the tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) from red palm oil. The present study compared cardioprotective abilities of different isomers of tocotrienol against TRF as recently tocotrienol has been found to function as a potent neuroprotective agent against stroke. Rats were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: animals were given, by gavage, either 0.35%, 1%, or 3.5% TRF for two different periods of time (2 or 4 wk) or 0.03, 0.3, and 3 mg/kg body wt of one of the isomers of tocotrienol (alpha, gamma, or delta) for 4 wk; control animals were given, by gavage, vehicle only. After 2 or 4 wk, rats were killed, and their hearts were then subjected to 30 min of global ischemia followed by 2 h of reperfusion. Dose-response and time-response experiments revealed that the optimal concentration for TRF was 3.5% TRF and 0.3 mg/kg body wt of tocotrienol given for 4 wk. TRF as well as all the isomers of tocotrienol used in our study providedcardioprotection, as evidenced by their ability to improve postischemic ventricular function and reduce myocardial infarct size. The gamma-isoform of tocotrienol was the most cardioprotective of all the isomers followed by the alpha- and delta-isoforms. The molecular mechanisms of cardioprotectionafforded by tocotrienol isoforms were probed by evaluating their respective abilities to stabilize the proteasome, allowing it to maintain a balance between prodeath and prosurvival signals. Our results demonstrated that tocotrienol isoforms reduced c-Src but increased the phosphorylation of Akt, thus generating a survival signal.

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Background And Purpose: The current work is based on our previous finding that in neuronal cells, nmol/L concentrations of alpha-tocotrienol(TCT), but not alpha-tocopherol (TCP), blocked glutamate-induced death by suppressing early activation of c-Src kinase and 12-lipoxygenase.

Methods: The single neuron microinjection technique was used to compare the neuroprotective effects of TCT with that of the more widely known TCP. Stroke-dependent brain tissue damage was studied in 12-Lox-deficient mice and spontaneously hypertensive rats orally supplemented with TCT.

Results: Subattomole quantity of TCT, but not TCP, protected neurons from glutamate challenge. Pharmacological as well as genetic approaches revealed that 12-Lox is rapidly tyrosine phosphorylated in the glutamate-challenged neuron and that this phosphorylation is catalyzed by c-Src. 12-Lox-deficient mice were more resistant to stroke-induced brain injury than their wild-type controls. Oral supplementation of TCT to spontaneously hypertensive rats led to increased TCT levels in the brain. TCT-supplemented rats showed more protection against stroke-induced injury compared with matched controls. Such protection was associated with lower c-Src activation and 12-Lox phosphorylation at the stroke site.

Conclusions: The natural vitamin E, TCT, acts on key molecular checkpoints to protect against glutamate- and stroke-induced neurodegeneration.

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Vitamin E tocotrienol synthesis in monocots requires homogentisate geranylgeranyl transferase (HGGT), which catalyzes condensation of homogentisate and the unsaturated C20 isoprenoid geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGDP). By contrast, vitamin E tocopherol synthesis is mediated by homogentisate phytyltransferase (HPT), which condenses homogentisate and the saturated C20 isoprenoid phytyl diphosphate (PDP). An HGGT-independent pathway for tocotrienol synthesis has also been shown to occur by deregulation of homogentisate synthesis. In this report, the basis for this pathway and its impact on vitamin E ion when combined with HGGT were explored. An Arabidopsis line was initially developed that accumulates tocotrienols and homogentisate by co-expression of Arabidopsis hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD) and Escherichia coli bifunctional chorismate mutase/prephenate dehydrogenase (TyrA). When crossed into the vte2-1 HPT null mutant, tocotrienol ion was lost, indicating that HPT catalyzes tocotrienol synthesis in HPPD/TyrA-expressing plants by atypical use of GGDP as a substrate. Consistent with this, recombinant Arabidopsis HPT preferentially catalyzed in vitro production of the tocotrienol precursor geranylgeranyl benzoquinol only when presented with high molar ratios of GGDP:PDP. In addition, tocotrienol levels were highest in early growth stages in HPPD/TyrA lines, but decreased strongly relative to tocopherols during later growth stages when PDP is known to accumulate. Collectively, these results indicate that HPPD/TyrA-induced tocotrienol production requires HPT and occurs upon enrichment of GGDP relative to PDP in prenyl-DP pools. Finally, combined expression of HPPD/TyrA and HGGT in Arabidopsis leaves and seeds resulted in large additive increases in vitamin E production indicating that homogentisate concentrations limit HGGT-catalyzed tocotrienol synthesis.

For many decades, the use of synthetic chemicals as drugs has been effective in the treatment of most diseases. Moreover, from ancient to modern history, many traditional plant based medicines are playing an important role in health care. Phytochemicals are natural bioactive compounds found in vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, aromatic plants, leaves, flowers and roots which act as a defense system to combat against diseases. The phytochemicals from natural products cover a diverse range of chemical entities such as polyphenols, flavonoids, steroidal saponins, organosulphur compounds and vitamins. A number of bioactive compounds generally obtained from terrestrial plants such as isoflavones, diosgenin, resveratrol, quercetin, catechin, sulforaphane, tocotrienols and carotenoids are proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and aid in cardioprotection which is the leading cause of death globally. The cardioprotective effects of the various phytochemicals are perhaps due to their antioxidative, antihypercholesteroemic, antiangiogenic, anti-ischemic, inhibition of platelet aggregation and anti inflammatory activities that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders. The multi-faceted role of the phytochemicals is mediated by its structure-function relationship and can be considered as leads for cardiovascular drug design in future. This review summarizes the findings of recent studies on selected phytochemicals as prophylactic and therapeutic agents in cardioprotection.

In 1922, embryologist H M Evans discovered tocopherols (TP) which are needed for human reproduction (Evans and Bishop, 1922; Evans et al., 1974). More than 40 years later, the isolation of tocotrienol (T3) from latex was first reported by R A Morton (Danphy et al., 1965). To date, vitamin E consists of T3 and TP. Together with TP, T3 provides a significant source of anti oxidant activity in all living cells. This common anti oxidant attribute reflects the similarity in chemical structure between T3 and TP, which differ only in their structural side-chain (T3 contains farnesyl while TP has a saturated phytyl side-chain). The common hydrogen atom from the hydroxyl (OH) group on the chromanol ring acts by scavenging the chain-propagating peroxyl free radicals. Depending on the location of the methyl groups on their chromanol ring, T3 and TP can be distinguished as four isomeric forms: alpha (a), beta (b), gamma (g), and delta (d). As TP was discovered much earlier compared to T3, TP has been more widely applied in human nutrition.

Postmenopausal osteoporotic bone loss occurs mainly due to cessation of ovarian function, a condition associated with increased free radicals. Vitamin E, a lipid-soluble vitamin, is a potent antioxidant which can scavenge free radicals in the body. In this study, we investigated the effects of alpha-tocopherol and pure tocotrienol on bone microarchitecture and cellular parameters in ovariectomized rats. Three-month-old female Wistar rats were randomly divided into ovariectomized control, sham-operated, and ovariectomized rats treated with either alpha-tocopherol or tocotrienol. Their femurs were taken at the end of the four-week study period for bone histomorphometric analysis. Ovariectomy causes bone loss in the control group as shown by reduction in both trabecular volume (BV/TV) and trabecular number (Tb.N) and an increase in trabecular separation (Tb.S). The increase in osteoclast surface (Oc.S) and osteoblast surface (Ob.S) in ovariectomy indicates an increase in bone turnover rate. Treatment with either alpha-tocopherol or tocotrienol prevents the reduction in BV/TV and Tb.N as well as the increase in Tb.S, while reducing the Oc.S and increasing the Ob.S. In conclusion, the two forms of vitamin E were able to prevent bone loss due to ovariectomy. Both tocotrienol and alpha-tocopherol exert similar effects in preserving bone microarchitecture in estrogen-deficient rat model.