Tocotrienols: inflammation and cancer

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Jul;1229:18-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06088.x.


Inflammation is an organism's response to environmental assaults. It can be classified as acute inflammation that leads to therapeutic recovery or chronic inflammation, which may lead to the development of cancer and other ailments. Genetic changes that occur within cancer cells themselves are responsible for many aspects of cancer development but are dependent on ancillary processes for tumor promotion and progression. Inflammation has long been associated with the development of cancer. The distinct characteristics of cancer cells to proliferate, metastasize, evade apoptotic signals, and develop chemoresistance have been linked to the inflammatory response. Due to the involvement of multiple genes and various pathways, current drugs that target single genes have not been effective in providing a therapeutic cure. On the other hand, natural products target multiple genes and therefore have better success compared to drugs. Tocotrienols, the potent isoforms of vitamin E, are such a natural product. This review will discuss the relationship between cancer and inflammation with particular focus on the roles played by NF-κB, STAT3, and COX-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Tocotrienols / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • NF-kappa B
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Tocotrienols
  • Cyclooxygenase 2