Tocotrienols are good adjuvants for developing cancer vaccines

BMC Cancer. 2010 Jan 6:10:5. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-10-5.


Background: Dendritic cells (DCs) have the potential for cancer immunotherapy due to their ability to process and present antigens to T-cells and also in stimulating immune responses. However, DC-based vaccines have only exhibited minimal effectiveness against established tumours in mice and humans. The use of appropriate adjuvant enhances the efficacy of DC based cancer vaccines in treating tumours.

Methods: In this study we have used tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF), a non-toxic natural compound, as an adjuvant to enhance the effectiveness of DC vaccines in treating mouse mammary cancers. In the mouse model, six-week-old female BALB/c mice were injected subcutaneously with DC and supplemented with oral TRF daily (DC+TRF) and DC pulsed with tumour lysate from 4T1 cells (DC+TL). Experimental mice were also injected with DC pulsed with tumour lysate and supplemented daily with oral TRF (DC+TL+TRF) while two groups of animal which were supplemented daily with carrier oil (control) and with TRF (TRF). After three times vaccination, mice were inoculated with 4T1 cells in the mammary breast pad to induce tumour.

Results: Our study showed that TRF in combination with DC pulsed with tumour lysate (DC+TL+TRF) injected subcutaneously significantly inhibited the growth of 4T1 mammary tumour cells as compared to control group. Analysis of cytokines production from murine splenocytes showed significant increased productions of IFN-gamma and IL-12 in experimental mice (DC+TL+TRF) compared to control, mice injected with DC without TRF, mice injected with DC pulsed with tumour lysate and mice supplemented with TRF alone. Higher numbers of cytotoxic T cells (CD8) and natural killer cells (NK) were observed in the peripheral blood of TRF adjuvanted DC pulsed tumour lysate mice.

Conclusion: Our study show that TRF has the potential to be an adjuvant to augment DC based immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-12 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Tocotrienols / pharmacology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Tocotrienols
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma