Vitamin E regulatory mechanisms

Annu Rev Nutr. 2007;27:347-62. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.27.061406.093819.


Dietary and supplemental vitamin E is absorbed and delivered to the liver, but of the various antioxidants with vitamin E activity, only alpha-tocopherol is preferentially recognized by the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein (alpha-TTP) and is transferred to plasma, while the other vitamin E forms (e.g., gamma-tocopherol or tocotrienols) are removed from the circulation. Hepatic alpha-TTP is required to maintain plasma and tissue alpha-tocopherol concentrations. The liver is the master regulator of the body's vitamin E levels in that it not only controls alpha-tocopherol concentrations, but also appears to be the major site of vitamin E metabolism and excretion. Vitamin Es are metabolized similarly to xenobiotics; they are initially omega-oxidized by cytochrome P450s, undergo several rounds of beta-oxidation, and then are conjugated and excreted. As a result of these various mechanisms, liver alpha-tocopherol and other vitamin E concentrations are closely regulated; thus, any potential adverse vitamin E effects are limited.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / physiology*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / prevention & control


  • Antioxidants
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Vitamin E