The vitamin E family consists of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. α-Tocopherol (αT) is the predominant form of vitamin E in tissues and its deficiency leads to ataxia in humans. However, results from many clinical studies do not support a protective role of αT in disease prevention in people with adequate nutrient status. On the other hand, recent mechanistic studies indicate that other forms of vitamin E, such as γ-tocopherol (γT), δ-tocopherol, and γ-tocotrienol, have unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are superior to those of αT in prevention and therapy against chronic diseases. These vitamin E forms scavenge reactive nitrogen species, inhibit cyclooxygenase- and 5-lipoxygenase-catalyzed eicosanoids, and suppress proinflammatory signaling such as NF-κB and STAT3/6. Unlike αT, other vitamin E forms are significantly metabolized to carboxychromanols via cytochrome P450-initiated side-chain ω-oxidation. Long-chain carboxychromanols, especially 13'-carboxychromanols, are shown to have stronger anti-inflammatory effects than unmetabolized vitamins and may therefore contribute to the beneficial effects of vitamin E forms in vivo. Consistent with mechanistic findings, animal and human studies show that γT and tocotrienols may be useful against inflammation-associated diseases. This review focuses on non-αT forms of vitamin E with respect to their metabolism, anti-inflammatory effects and mechanisms, and in vivo efficacy in preclinical models as well as human clinical intervention studies.
Keywords: 5-Lipoxygenase; Asthma; Cancer; Cyclooxygenase; Free radicals; Inflammation; Long-chain carboxychromanol; Lung injury; Tocopherol; Tocotrienol.
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