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Biol Chem. 2002 Mar-Apr;383(3-4):457-65.

The 80th anniversary of vitamin E: beyond its antioxidant properties.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Berne, Switzerland.


Molecules provided with an antioxidant function may have additional properties, the latter being sometimes of greater importance than the former. In the last ten years, alpha-tocopherol has revealed precise cellular functions, some of which are independent of its antioxidant/radical scavenging ability. At the posttranslational level, alpha-tocopherol inhibits protein kinase C and 5-lipoxygenase and activates protein phosphatase 2A and diacylglycerol kinase. Some genes (CD36, alpha-TTP, alpha-tropomyosin, and collagenase) are affected by alpha-tocopherol at the transcriptional level. alpha-Tocopherol also induces inhibition of cell proliferation, platelet aggregation and monocyte adhesion. These effects are unrelated to the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, but rather are believed to be a result of specific interactions of vitamin E with components of the cell, e. g. proteins, enzymes and membranes. This review focuses on novel non-antioxidant functions of alpha-tocopherol and discusses the possibility that many of the effects previously attributed to the antioxidant functions can also be explained by non-antioxidant mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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