Vitamin E, an essential nutrient with powerful antioxidant activity, is the mixture of two classes of compounds, tocopherols (TPs) and tocotrienols (TTs). Although TTs exhibit better bone protective activity than α-TP, the underlying mechanism is poorly understood. In this study, we investigated whether α-TT and α-TP can modulate osteoclastic bone resorption. We found that α-TT but not α-TP inhibits osteoclastogenesis in coculture of osteoblasts and bone marrow cells induced by either IL-1 or combined treatment with 1α,25(OH)(2) vitamin D(3) and prostaglandin E(2). In accordance with this, only α-TT inhibited receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) expression in osteoblasts. In addition, α-TT but not α-TP inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation from precursors by suppression of c-Fos expression, possibly through inhibiting ERK and NF-κB activation. This anti-osteoclastogenic effect was reversed when c-Fos or an active form of NFATc1, a critical downstream of c-Fos during osteoclastogenesis, was overexpressed. Furthermore, only α-TT reduced bone resorbing activity of mature osteoclasts without affecting their survival. Overall, our results demonstrate that α-TT but not α-TP has anti-bone resorptive properties by inhibiting osteoclast differentiation and activation, suggesting that α-TT may have therapeutic value for treating and preventing bone diseases characterized by excessive bone destruction.
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