Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, and these two metabolic conditions cause significant healthcare burden worldwide. Chronic inflammation and increased oxidative stress due to exposure of cells to excess nutrients in obesity may trigger insulin resistance and pancreatic β-cell dysfunction. Tocotrienol, as a functional food component with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cell signaling-mediating effects, may be a potential agent to complement the current management of obesity and diabetes. The review aimed to summarize the current evidence on the anti-obesity and antidiabetic effects of tocotrienol. Previous studies showed that tocotrienol could suppress adipogenesis and, subsequently, reduce body weight and fat mass in animals. This was achieved by regulating pathways of lipid metabolism and fatty acid biosynthesis. It could also reduce the expression of transcription factors regulating adipogenesis and increase apoptosis of adipocytes. In diabetic models, tocotrienol was shown to improve glucose homeostasis. Activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors was suggested to be responsible for these effects. Tocotrienol also prevented multiple systemic complications due to obesity and diabetes in animal models through suppression of inflammation and oxidative stress. Several clinical trials have been conducted to validate the antidiabetic of tocotrienol, but the results were heterogeneous. There is no evidence showing the anti-obesity effects of tocotrienol in humans. Considering the limitations of the current studies, tocotrienol has the potential to be a functional food component to aid in the management of patients with obesity and diabetes.
Keywords: adipose; diabetes; insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome; obesity; overweight; vitamin E.