Tocotrienols, a class of vitamin E analogs, modulate several mechanisms associated with the aging process and aging-related diseases. Most studies compare the activities of tocotrienols with those of tocopherols ("classical vitamin E"). However, some biological effects were found to be unique for tocotrienols. Although the absorption mechanisms are essentially the same for all vitamin E analogs, tocotrienols are degraded to a greater extent than tocopherols. The levels of tocotrienols in the plasma of animals and humans were estimated to reach low micromolar concentrations. One hallmark in the origin of disease and aging is the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Tocotrienols possess excellent antioxidant activity in vitro and have been suggested to suppress ROS production more efficiently than tocopherols. In addition, tocotrienols show promising nonantioxidant activities in various in vitro and in vivo models. Most notable are the interactions of tocotrienols with the mevalonate pathway leading to the lowering of cholesterol levels, the prevention of cell adhesion to endothelial cells, and the suppression of tumor cell growth. Furthermore, glutamate-induced neurotoxicity is suppressed in the presence of tocotrienols. This review summarizes the main antioxidant and nonantioxidant effects of tocotrienols and assesses their potential as health-maintaining compounds.
Schaffer S, Müller WE, Eckert GP. Tocotrienols: constitutional effects in aging and disease. J Nutr. 2005 February Institute of Pharmacology (ZAFES Member), Biocenter Niederursel, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.