Purpose: This study tested the hypothesis that γ- and δ-tocotrienols are more effective than α-tocotrienol and α-tocopherol in attenuating the signs of diet-induced metabolic syndrome in rats.
Methods: Five groups of rats were fed a corn starch-rich (C) diet containing 68 % carbohydrates as polysaccharides, while the other five groups were fed a diet (H) high in simple carbohydrates (fructose and sucrose in food, 25 % fructose in drinking water, total 68 %) and fats (beef tallow, total 24 %) for 16 weeks. Separate groups from each diet were supplemented with either α-, γ-, δ-tocotrienol or α-tocopherol (85 mg/kg/day) for the final 8 of the 16 weeks.
Results: H rats developed visceral obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, cardiovascular remodelling and fatty liver. α-Tocopherol, α-, γ- and δ-tocotrienols reduced collagen deposition and inflammatory cell infiltration in the heart. Only γ- and δ-tocotrienols improved cardiovascular function and normalised systolic blood pressure compared to H rats. Further, δ-tocotrienol improved glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, lipid profile and abdominal adiposity. In the liver, these interventions reduced lipid accumulation, inflammatory infiltrates and plasma liver enzyme activities. Tocotrienols were measured in heart, liver and adipose tissue showing that chronic oral dosage delivered tocotrienols to these organs despite low or no detection of tocotrienols in plasma.
Conclusion: In rats, δ-tocotrienol improved inflammation, heart structure and function, and liver structure and function, while γ-tocotrienol produced more modest improvements, with minimal changes with α-tocotrienol and α-tocopherol. The most important mechanism of action is likely to be reduction in organ inflammation.
Keywords: Anti-inflammatory; Cardiovascular; Metabolic syndrome; Obesity; Tocopherols; Tocotrienols.