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Life Extension Magazine January 2011

Gamma E

Association between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, selenium, and subsequent prostate cancer.

BACKGROUND: Selenium and alpha-tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in supplements, appear to have a protective effect against prostate cancer. However, little attention has been paid to the possible role of gamma-tocopherol, a major component of vitamin E in the U.S. diet and the second most common tocopherol in human serum. A nested case-control study was conducted to examine the associations of alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and selenium with incident prostate cancer. METHODS: In 1989, a total of 10,456 male residents of Washington County, MD, donated blood for a specimen bank. A total of 117 of 145 men who developed prostate cancer and 233 matched control subjects had toenail and plasma samples available for assays of selenium, alpha-tocopherol, and gamma-tocopherol. The association between the micronutrient concentrations and the development of prostate cancer was assessed by conditional logistic regression analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided. RESULTS: The risk of prostate cancer declined, but not linearly, with increasing concentrations of alpha-tocopherol (odds ratio (highest versus lowest fifth) = 0.65; 95% confidence interval = 0.32—1.32; P(trend) =.28). For gamma-tocopherol, men in the highest fifth of the distribution had a fivefold reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer than men in the lowest fifth (P:(trend) =.002). The association between selenium and prostate cancer risk was in the protective direction with individuals in the top four fifths of the distribution having a reduced risk of prostate cancer compared with individuals in the bottom fifth (P(trend) =.27). Statistically significant protective associations for high levels of selenium and alpha-tocopherol were observed only when gamma-tocopherol concentrations were high. CONCLUSIONS: The use of combined alpha- and gamma- tocopherol supplements should be considered in upcoming prostate cancer prevention trials, given the observed interaction between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and selenium.

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Dec 20;92(24):2018-23

Anti-inflammatory properties of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol.

Natural vitamin E consists of four different tocopherol and four different tocotrienol homologues (alpha,beta, gamma, delta) that all have antioxidant activity. However, recent data indicate that the different vitamin E homologues also have biological activity unrelated to their antioxidant activity. In this review, we discuss the anti-inflammatory properties of the two major forms of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol (alphaT) and gamma-tocopherol (gammaT), and discuss the potential molecular mechanisms involved in these effects. While both tocopherols exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in vitro and in vivo, supplementation with mixed (gammaT-enriched) tocopherols seems to be more potent than supplementation with alphaT alone. This may explain the mostly negative outcomes of the recent large-scale interventional chronic disease prevention trials with alphaT only and thus warrants further investigation.

Mol Aspects Med. 2007 Oct-Dec;28(5-6):668-91

Gamma-tocopherol supplementation alone and in combination with alpha-tocopherol alters biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation in subjects with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with increased incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Prospective clinical trials with alpha-tocopherol (AT) have not yielded positive results. Because AT supplementation decreases circulating gamma-tocopherol (GT), we evaluated supplementation with GT (800 mg/day), AT (800 mg/day), the combination or placebo for 6 weeks alone AT and GT concentrations, biomarkers of oxidative stress, and inflammation in subjects with MetS (n=20/group). Plasma AT and GT levels increased following supplementation with AT alone or GT alone or in combination. AT supplementation significantly decreased GT levels. Urinary alpha- and gamma-CEHC, metabolites of the respective Ts, also increased correspondingly, i.e., alpha-CEHC with AT and gamma-CEHC with GT supplementation, compared to placebo. HsCRP levels significantly decreased in the combined AT+GT group. LPS-activated whole blood release of IL-1 and IL-6 did not change. There was a significant decrease in TNF with AT alone or in combination with GT. Plasma MDA/HNE and lipid peroxides were significantly decreased with AT, GT, or in combination. Nitrotyrosine levels were significantly decreased only with GT or GT+AT but not with AT compared to placebo. Thus, the combination of AT and GT supplementation appears to be superior to either supplementation alone on biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation and needs to be tested in prospective clinical trials to elucidate its utility in CVD prevention.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Mar 15;44(6):1203-8

Vitamin E: function and metabolism.

Although vitamin E has been known as an essential nutrient for reproduction since 1922, we are far from understanding the mechanisms of its physiological functions. Vitamin E is the term for a group of tocopherols and tocotrienols, of which alpha-tocopherol has the highest biological activity. Due to the potent antioxidant properties of tocopherols, the impact of alpha-tocopherol in the prevention of chronic diseases believed to be associated with oxidative stress has often been studied, and beneficial effects have been demonstrated. Recent observations that the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein in the liver specifically sorts out RRR-alpha-tocopherol from all incoming tocopherols for incorporation into plasma lipoproteins, and that alpha-tocopherol has signaling functions in vascular smooth muscle cells that cannot be exerted by other forms of tocopherol with similar antioxidative properties, have raised interest in the roles of vitamin E beyond its antioxidative function. Also, gamma-tocopherol might have functions apart from being an antioxidant. It is a nucleophile able to trap electrophilic mutagens in lipophilic compartments and generates a metabolite that facilitates natriuresis. The metabolism of vitamin E is equally unclear. Excess alpha-tocopherol is converted into alpha-CEHC and excreted in the urine. Other tocopherols, like gamma- and delta-tocopherol, are almost quantitatively degraded and excreted in the urine as the corresponding CEHCs. All rac alpha-tocopherol compared to RRR-alpha-tocopherol is preferentially degraded to alpha-CEHC. Thus, there must be a specific, molecular role of RRR-alpha-tocopherol that is regulated by a system that sorts, distributes, and degrades the different forms of vitamin E, but has not yet been identified. In this article we try to summarize current knowledge on the function of vitamin E, with emphasis on its antioxidant vs. other properties, the preference of the organism for RRR-alpha-tocopherol, and its metabolism to CEHCs.

FASEB J. 1999 Jul;13(10):1145-55

Vitamin E forms in Alzheimer’s disease: a review of controversial and clinical experiences.

Vitamin E is a collective term for eight naturally occurring compounds, four tocopherols (alpha, beta-, gamma-, and delta-) and four tocotrienols (alpha-, beta, gamma-, and delta-). Although it is the major form of vitamin E in US diets, gamma-tocopherol receives little attention when compared to alpha-tocopherol, which is generally found in supplements and most studied for its effects on progression of cognitive impairment. Many clinical trials had been conducted with vitamin E and neurodegenerative disorders, with controversial results, including a recent study which disproves the benefit of vitamin E for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease. This study examined the alpha-tocopherol supplement instead of gamma-tocopherol. Gamma-tocopherol has been found to be more effective in scavenging free radicals and nitrogen oxygen species that cause inflammation; both of these are components of neurodegenerative disorders. Secondly, the use of alpha-tocopherol supplements significantly reduces serum gamma-tocopherol, and this may have important biological effects. Therefore, any potential health benefits of alpha-tocopherol supplements may be offset by deleterious changes in the bioavailability of other forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols. This might account for the null effects of alpha tocopherol supplementation in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 May;50(5):414-9

Present trends in vitamin E research.

Nearly after one century of research and thousands of publications, the physiological function(s) of vitamin E remain unclear. Available evidence suggests a role in cell homeostasis that occurs through the modulation of specific signaling pathways and genes involved in proliferative, metabolic, inflammatory, and antioxidant pathways. Vitamin E presence in the human body is under close metabolic control so that only alpha-tocopherol and, to a lower extent, gamma-tocopherol are retained and delivered to tissues. Other vitamin E forms that are not retained in the body in significant amounts, exhibit responses in vitro that are different form those of alpha-tocopherol and may include tumor cell specific toxicity and apoptosis. These responses provide a therapeutic potential for these minor forms, either as such or metabolically modified, to produce bioactive metabolites. These cellular effects go beyond the properties of lipophilic antioxidant attributed to alpha-tocopherol particularly investigated for its alleged protective role in atherosclerosis or other oxidative stress conditions. Understanding signaling and gene expression effects of vitamin E could help assign a physiological role to this vitamin, which will be discussed in this review. Besides vitamin E signaling, attention will be given to tocotrienols as one of the emerging topics in vitamin E research and a critical re-examination of the most recent clinical trials will be provided together with the potential use of vitamin E in disease prevention and therapy.

Biofactors. 2010 Jan;36(1):33-42

Gamma-tocopherol and its major metabolite, in contrast to alpha-tocopherol, inhibit cyclooxygenase activity in macrophages and epithelial cells.

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-catalyzed synthesis of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) plays a key role in inflammation and its associated diseases, such as cancer and vascular heart disease. Here we report that gamma-tocopherol (gammaT) reduced PGE(2) synthesis in both lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages and IL-1beta-treated A549 human epithelial cells with an apparent IC(50) of 7.5 and 4 microM, respectively. The major metabolite of dietary gammaT, 2,7,8-trimethyl-2-(beta-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman (gamma-CEHC), also exhibited an inhibitory effect, with an IC(50) of approximately 30 microM in these cells. In contrast, alpha-tocopherol at 50 microM slightly reduced (25%) PGE(2) formation in macrophages, but had no effect in epithelial cells. The inhibitory effects of gammaT and gamma-CEHC stemmed from their inhibition of COX-2 activity, rather than affecting protein expression or substrate availability, and appeared to be independent of antioxidant activity. gamma-CEHC also inhibited PGE(2) synthesis when exposed for 1 h to COX-2-preinduced cells followed by the addition of arachidonic acid (AA), whereas under similar conditions, gammaT required an 8- to 24-h incubation period to cause the inhibition. The inhibitory potency of gammaT and gamma-CEHC was diminished by an increase in AA concentration, suggesting that they might compete with AA at the active site of COX-2. We also observed a moderate reduction of nitrite accumulation and suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by gammaT in lipopolysaccharide-treated macrophages. These findings indicate that gammaT and its major metabolite possess anti-inflammatory activity and that gammaT at physiological concentrations may be important in human disease prevention.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Oct 10;97(21):11494-9

Gamma-tocopherol, but not alpha-tocopherol, decreases proinflammatory eicosanoids and inflammation damage in rats.

Gamma-tocopherol (gammaT), the major form of vitamin E in US diets, and its physiological metabolite 2, 7, 8-trimethyl-2-(beta-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman (gamma-CEHC), in contrast to alpha-tocopherol (alphaT), the primary vitamin E in supplements, inhibit cyclooxygenase-catalyzed synthesis of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in activated macrophages and epithelial cells. Here we report that in carrageenan-induced inflammation in male Wistar rats, administration of gammaT (33 or 100 mg/kg) and gamma-CEHC (2 mg/pouch), but not alphaT (33 mg/kg), significantly reduced PGE2 synthesis at the site of inflammation. gammaT, but not alphaT, significantly inhibited the formation of leukotriene B4, a potent chemotactic agent synthesized by the 5-lipoxygenase of neutrophils. Although gammaT had no effect on neutrophil infiltration, it significantly attenuated the partial loss of food consumption caused by inflammation-associated discomfort. Administration of gammaT led consistently to a significant reduction of inflammation-mediated increase in 8-isoprostane, a biomarker of lipid peroxidation. gammaT at 100 mg/kg reduced TNF-alpha (65%;P=0.069), total nitrate/nitrite (40%;P=0.1), and lactate dehydrogenase activity (30%;P=0.067). Collectively, gammaT inhibits proinflammatory PGE2 and LTB4, decreases TNF-alpha, and attenuates inflammation-mediated damage. These findings provide strong evidence that gammaT shows anti-inflammatory activities in vivo that may be important for human disease prevention and therapy.

FASEB J. 2003 May;17(8):816-22

Vitamin E isoform-specific inhibition of the exercise-induced heat shock protein 72 expression in humans.

Increased levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, as seen in response to exercise, challenge the cellular integrity. Important protective adaptive changes include induction of heat shock proteins (HSPs). We hypothesized that supplementation with antioxidant vitamins C (ascorbic acid) and E (tocopherol) would attenuate the exercise-induced increase of HSP72 in the skeletal muscle and in the circulation. Using randomization, we allocated 21 young men into three groups receiving one of the following oral supplementations: RRR-alpha-tocopherol 400 IU/day + ascorbic acid (AA) 500 mg/day (CEalpha), RRR-alpha-tocopherol 290 IU/day + RRR-gamma-tocopherol 130 IU/day + AA 500 mg/day (CEalphagamma), or placebo (Control). After 28 days of supplementation, the subjects performed 3 h of knee extensor exercise at 50% of the maximal power output. HSP72 mRNA and protein content was determined in muscle biopsies obtained from vastus lateralis at rest (0 h), postexercise (3 h), and after a 3-h recovery (6 h). In addition, blood was sampled for measurements of HSP72, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, AA, and 8-iso-prostaglandin-F2alpha (8-PGF2alpha). Postsupplementation, the groups differed with respect to plasma vitamin levels. The marker of lipid peroxidation, 8-iso-PGF2alpha, increased from 0 h to 3 h in all groups, however, markedly less (P < 0.05) in CEalpha. In Control, skeletal muscle HSP72 mRNA content increased 2.5-fold (P < 0.05) and serum HSP72 protein increased 4-fold (P < 0.05) in response to exercise, whereas a significant increase of skeletal muscle HSP72 protein content was not observed (P = 0.07). In CEalpha, skeletal muscle HSP72 mRNA, HSP72 protein, and serum HSP72 were not different from Control in response to exercise. In contrast, the effect of exercise on skeletal muscle HSP72 mRNA and protein, as well as circulating HSP72, was completely blunted in CEalphagamma. The results indicate that gamma-tocopherol comprises a potent inhibitor of the exercise-induced increase of HSP72 in skeletal muscle as well as in the circulation.

J Appl Physiol. 2006 May;100(5):1679-87

Gamma-tocopherol and docosahexaenoic acid decrease inflammation in dialysis patients.

OBJECTIVE: Increased cardiovascular risk in hemodialysis patients may be related to augmented oxidative stress and inflammation, for which no proven beneficial therapies are available.STUDY DESIGN: We examined the effects of gamma tocopherol and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) administration on inflammation and oxidative stress markers in hemodialysis patients in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Active treatment consisted of capsules containing gamma tocopherol (308 mg) and DHA (800 mg). SETTING: Outpatient dialysis center. PATIENTS: Seventy maintenance hemodialysis patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Plasma concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and protein carbonyl content were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay. C-reactive protein was measured by nephelometry. The F(2) isoprostanes were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Erythrocyte DHA content was measured by gas chromatography. RESULTS: Sixty-three patients were enrolled, and 57 completed the study. No serious adverse events were attributed to either active treatment or placebo. In the treatment group, but not in the placebo group, there were significant decreases in IL-6 (21.4 +/- 3.5 to 16.8 +/- 3.7 pg/mL), white blood cell (WBC) count (7.4 +/- 0.3 to 6.9 +/- 0.4 10(3)/microL), and neutrophil fraction of WBCs (4.8 +/- 0.3 to 4.4 +/- 0.3 10(3)/microL), at P < .05 for all. There were no significant changes in plasma concentrations of CRP, F(2) isoprostanes, or carbonyls in either group. CONCLUSION: Thus, gamma tocopherol and DHA are well-tolerated and reduce selected biomarkers of inflammation in hemodialysis patients. Larger randomized, clinical trials will be required to determine if gamma tocopherol and DHA can reduce cardiovascular complications in hemodialysis patients.

J Ren Nutr. 2007 Sep;17(5):296-304.

Relative Effects of alpha- and gamma-Tocopherol on Low-Density Lipoprotein Oxidation and Superoxide Dismutase and Nitric Oxide Synthase Activity and Protein Expression in Rats.

BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence suggests that vitamin E prevents the progression of atherosclerosis by inhibiting platelet aggregation, monocyte adhesion, and improving plaque stability and vasomotor function. Recently, controversy has arisen as to the relative effects of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol in modulating some mediators of atherosclerosis.METHODS AND RESULTS: We examined the effects of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol on constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and protein expression in rats. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed regular chow or chow mixed with alpha- or gamma-tocopherol (100 mg/kg/day) for 7 to 10 days. Plasma alpha- and gamma-tocopherol levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, and cNOS and SOD activity and protein expression were measured. Plasma alpha-tocopherol levels were significantly increased (eP <.01 vs control), but gamma-tocopherol levels fell (P <.01 vs control) in rats fed alpha-tocopherol. Plasma gamma-tocopherol levels were increased (P <.01 vs control), and alpha-tocopherol levels did not change in rats fed gamma-tocopherol. Both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol feeding decreased the rate of LDL oxidation induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)-stimulated leukocytes (P <.01 vs control). Both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol increased SOD activity in plasma and arterial tissues as well as Mn SOD and Cu/Zn SOD protein expression in arterial tissues (all P <.01 vs control). gamma-Tocopherol was more potent than alpha-tocopherol in all these effects (P <.05). Both a- and gamma-tocopherol increased NO generation and cNOS activity (all P <.05 vs control). However, only gamma-tocopherol increased cNOS protein expression.CONCLUSIONS: These observations indicate that whereas both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol exert important effects on determinants of oxidationand vasomotor function, effects of dietary gamma-tocopherol supplementation in vivo are less pronounced than those of gamma-tocopherol supplementation.

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Oct;4(4):219-226

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