Anti-inflammatory effects of alpha-tocopherol

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1031:195-203. doi: 10.1196/annals.1331.019.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the western world. Its incidence has been increasing lately in the developing countries. Much evidence suggests a major role for inflammation in all phases of atherosclerosis. Cell adhesion molecules, cytokines, chemokines, and monocytes-macrophages as well as T lymphocytes play a pivotal role in atherogenesis. C-reactive protein (CRP), a downstream marker of inflammation, in addition to being a risk marker for CVD, could contribute to atherosclerosis. Dietary micronutrients with anti-inflammatory properties, specially alpha-tocopherol, may play an important role with regard to the prevention and treatment of CVD. alpha-Tocopherol has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects both in vitro and in vivo. alpha-Tocopherol therapy, especially at high doses, has been shown to decrease release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha) and the chemokine interleukin-8, and to decrease adhesion of monocytes to endothelium. In addition, alpha-tocopherol has been shown to decrease CRP levels in patients with CVD and having related risk factors for CVD (such as diabetes and smoking). Furthermore, pro-inflammatory cytokines and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) levels have also been shown to be decreased with alpha-tocopherol supplementation in vivo. In this review, our focus will be on anti-inflammatory effects of alpha-tocopherol reported in in vivo studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / physiology
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / blood
  • Risk Factors
  • alpha-Tocopherol / administration & dosage
  • alpha-Tocopherol / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Cytokines
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • alpha-Tocopherol