Regulation of cell signalling by Vitamin E

Rimbach G, Minihane AM, Majewicz J, Fischer A, Pallauf J, Virgli F, Weinberg PD.

Vitamin E, the most important lipid-soluble antioxidant, was discovered at the University of California at Berkeley in 1922. Since its discovery, studies of the constituent tocopherols andĀ tocotrienolsĀ have focused mainly on their antioxidant properties. In 1991 Angelo Azzi’s group (Boscoboinik et al. 1991a,b) first described non-antioxidant cell signalling functions for alpha-tocopherol, demonstrating that vitamin E regulates protein kinase C activity in smooth muscle cells. At the transcriptional level, alpha-tocopherol modulates the expression of the hepatic alpha-tocopherol transfer protein, as well as the expression of liver collagen alphal gene, collagenase gene and alpha-tropomyosin gene. Recently, a tocopherol-dependent transcription factor (tocopherol-associated protein) has been discovered. In cultured cells it has been demonstrated that vitamin E inhibits inflammation, cell adhesion, platelet aggregation and smooth muscle cell proliferation. Recent advances in molecular biology and genomic techniques have led to the discovery of novel vitamin E-sensitive genes and signal transduction pathways.