Vitamin E and transfer proteins

Curr Opin Lipidol. 2003 Jun;14(3):249-54. doi: 10.1097/00041433-200306000-00004.


Purpose of review: Recently, the intracellular transport as well as cellular uptake and excretion of alpha-tocopherol, the major representative of vitamin E, have been elucidated.

Recent findings: Alpha-tocopherol transfer protein has been identified as the major intracellular transport protein for vitamin E, mediating alpha-tocopherol secretion into the plasma via a non-Golgi-dependent pathway, while other binding proteins seem to play a less important role. New information has accumulated concerning the role of this protein in the transport and supply of vitamin E to tissues such as the central nervous system and the feto-maternal unit. The scavenger receptor class B type I receptor, a membrane-bound protein, is capable of transferring vitamin E into the cell, while the ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 can excrete vitamin E out of the cell. Advances in the area of vitamin E metabolism have shown that alpha-CEHC (2,5,7,8-tetramethyl-2-(2'-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman) and gamma-CEHC (2,7,8-trimethyl-2-(2'-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman) are formed by a cytochrome p450-mediated process, important for alpha and gamma-tocopherol excretion.

Summary: Insights into the regulation of vitamin E transport and metabolism on the cellular level have made enormous advances, showing the complex interplay of influx, trafficking, efflux and metabolism of this crucial antioxidant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • CD36 Antigens / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins*
  • Receptors, Immunologic*
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein*
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Vitamin E / metabolism*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / physiopathology
  • alpha-Tocopherol / metabolism


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • CD36 Antigens
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Lipoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • SCARB1 protein, human
  • SEC14L2 protein, human
  • Scarb1 protein, mouse
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha-tocopherol transfer protein
  • Vitamin E
  • alpha-Tocopherol