Vitamin E is comprised of two classes of compounds: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Tocotrienol-enriched palm oil has been shown to help reduce blood glucose levels in patients and preclinical animal models. However, the mechanistic basis for tocotrienol action is not well established. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors alpha, gamma, and delta (PPARalpha, PPARgamma, and PPARdelta) are ligand-regulated transcription factors that play essential roles in energy metabolism. Importantly, synthetic PPARalpha and PPARgamma ligands are currently used for treating hyperlipidemia and diabetes. In this study, we present data that tocotrienols within palm oil functioned as PPAR modulators. Specifically, both alpha- and gamma-tocotrienol activated PPARalpha, while delta-tocotrienol activated PPARalpha, PPARgamma, and PPARdelta in reporter-based assays. Tocotrienols enhanced the interaction between the purified ligand-binding domain of PPARalpha with the receptor-interacting motif of coactivator PPARgamma coactivator-1alpha. In addition, the tocotrienol-rich fraction of palm oil improved whole body glucose utilization and insulin sensitivity of diabetic Db/Db mice by selectively regulating PPAR target genes. These lines of evidence collectively suggested that PPARs represent a set of molecular targets of tocotrienols.
Fang F, Kang Z, Wong C. Vitamin E tocotrienols improve insulin sensitivity through activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 October Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou Science City, Guangzhou, P. R. China.