Gamma-tocotrienol inhibits nuclear factor-kappaB signaling pathway through inhibition of receptor-interacting protein and TAK1 leading to suppression of antiapoptotic gene products and potentiation of apoptosis

J Biol Chem. 2007 Jan 5;282(1):809-20. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M610028200. Epub 2006 Nov 17.


Unlike the tocopherols, the tocotrienols, also members of the vitamin E family, have an unsaturated isoprenoid side chain. In contrast to extensive studies on tocopherol, very little is known about tocotrienol. Because the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathway has a central role in tumorigenesis, we investigated the effect of gamma-tocotrienol on the NF-kappaB pathway. Although gamma-tocotrienol completely abolished tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF)-induced NF-kappaB activation, a similar dose of gamma-tocopherol had no effect. Besides TNF, gamma-tocotrienol also abolished NF-kappaB activation induced by phorbol myristate acetate, okadaic acid, lipopolysaccharide, cigarette smoke, interleukin-1beta, and epidermal growth factor. Constitutive NF-kappaB activation expressed by certain tumor cells was also abrogated by gamma-tocotrienol. Reducing agent had no effect on the gamma-tocotrienol-induced down-regulation of NF-kappaB. Mevalonate reversed the NF-kappaB inhibitory effect of gamma-tocotrienol, indicating the role of hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase. Gamma-tocotrienol blocked TNF-induced phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaBalpha through the inhibition of IkappaBalpha kinase activation, thus leading to the suppression of the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of p65. gamma-Tocotrienol also suppressed NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene transcription induced by TNF, TNFR1, TRADD, TRAF2, TAK1, receptor-interacting protein, NIK, and IkappaBalpha kinase but not that activated by p65. Additionally, the expressions of NF-kappaB-regulated gene products associated with antiapoptosis (IAP1, IAP2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-2, cFLIP, XIAP, Bfl-1/A1, TRAF1, and Survivin), proliferation (cyclin D1, COX2, and c-Myc), invasion (MMP-9 and ICAM-1), and angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor) were down-regulated by gamma-tocotrienol. This correlated with potentiation of apoptosis induced by TNF, paclitaxel, and doxorubicin. Overall, our results demonstrate that gamma-tocotrienol inhibited the NF-kappaB activation pathway, leading to down-regulation of various gene products and potentiation of apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromans
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Chemical
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Vitamin E / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin E / physiology


  • Chromans
  • NF-kappa B
  • Vitamin E
  • plastochromanol 8
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases
  • MAP kinase kinase kinase 7