Vitamin E succinate inhibits colon cancer liver metastases

J Surg Res. 2002 Aug;106(2):292-8. doi: 10.1006/jsre.2002.6466.


Background: Vitamin E succinate (VES) is a promising anti-cancer micronutrient. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that VES will promote colon cancer tumor dormancy and inhibit liver metastases in colon cancer.

Methods: CT-26 colon cancer cells were treated with VES in vitro and in an in vivo model of liver metastases. The impact of VES on cellular proliferation and apoptosis was measured in vitro by MTS assay and sandwich ELISA and in vivo by PCNA staining and TUNEL assay, respectively. Correlation coefficients and independent t tests were used for statistical analysis.

Results: VES significantly and specifically inhibited cell proliferation (P = 0.011) and promoted apoptosis (P < 0.0074) of cancer cells in vitro. VES produced a 40% reduction of liver metastases (P = 0.037). Five of the eight mice had an excellent response to VES. Subsequent analysis of these five mice revealed a 75% reduction in the number of liver metastases (P < 0.05). VES significantly promoted tumor cell apoptosis (P < 0.0003) and inhibited cell proliferation (P = 0.0069) in vivo.

Conclusions: VES inhibits the growth of colon cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. This is the first report of VES inhibition of colon cancer tumor metastases. The mechanism of VES anti-tumor and anti-metastatic activity in vivo appears to involve promotion of tumor apoptosis and inhibition of cell proliferation. These findings support further investigation of VES as a micronutrient to promote colon cancer tumor dormancy and prevent metastases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma / prevention & control
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Mice
  • Tocopherols
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vitamin E / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*


  • Vitamin E
  • Tocopherols