Elevated plasma gamma-tocopherol and decreased alpha-tocopherol in men are associated with inflammatory markers and decreased plasma 25-OH vitamin D

Nutr Cancer. 2008;60 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):21-9. doi: 10.1080/01635580802404162.


Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many diseases of aging. Endogenous oxidants are thought to mediate the effects of inflammation and gamma-Tocopherol (gamma-Toc) may mitigate damage from nitrogen-based oxidants; however, no physiological requirement for gamma-Toc has been established. Regulation of tocopherols and their functional significance are poorly defined, thereby limiting their application in prevention. Using stored plasma samples from 657 male control subjects in a previous study of prostate cancer, we have analyzed associations of the tocopherols, inflammation markers, and 25-hydroxy (OH) vitamin D. Plasma alpha-Toc and gamma-Toc were inversely correlated, whereas delta-Toc and alpha-Toc levels were positively correlated, suggesting a unique regulatory mechanism. gamma-Toc levels were positively and alpha-Toc negatively associated with plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) and urinary isoprostane F(2t), which are markers of inflammation and oxidation. Ethnic variability in tocopherols was observed; however, this may be explained by differences in plasma 25-OH vitamin D, as gamma-Toc levels varied inversely and alpha-Toc positively with 25-OH vitamin D. In these data, all-cause mortality appeared to be positively associated with CRP and inversely with 25-OH vitamin D. We hypothesize that plasma levels of tocopherols may serve as markers of systemic inflammation, complicating epidemiologic assessment of their role in cancer etiology.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • alpha-Tocopherol / blood*
  • gamma-Tocopherol / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin D
  • gamma-Tocopherol
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • alpha-Tocopherol