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Lipids. 2007 Mar;42(2):163-70. Epub 2007 Jan 31.

Intestinal epithelial cells absorb gamma-tocotrienol faster than alpha-tocopherol.

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National Food Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


To elucidate the transepithelial transport characteristics of lipophilic compounds, the cellular uptake of tocopherol and tocotrienol isomers were investigated in Caco2 cell monolayer models. These vitamin E isomers formed mixed micelles consisting of bile salts, lysophospholipids, free fatty acid, and 2-monoacylglycerols, then the micelles were supplied to Caco2 cells. The initial accumulation of tocotrienol isomers in Caco2 cells was larger than those of corresponding tocopherol isomers. There was little difference among the cellular accumulations of four tocopherol isomers. These findings suggested that the difference between the molecular structures of the C16 hydrocarbon chain tail in tocopherol and tocotrienol was strongly responsible for the rapid epithelial transport into the Caco2 cells membranes rather than the difference in the molecular structures of their chromanol head groups. Furthermore, the secretion of alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocotrienol from Caco2 cells was investigated using Caco2 cells plated on a transwell. The time courses of their secretions from Caco2 cells showed that the initial secretion rate of gamma-tocotrienol was also larger than that of alpha-tocopherol. To investigate the intestinal uptake of alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocotrienol in vivo, the mice were fed single doses of alpha-tocopherol or gamma-tocotrienol with triolein. The gamma-tocotrienol responded faster in plasma than alpha-tocopherol, although the maximal level of gamma-tocotrienol was lower than that of alpha-tocopherol. This suggested that the intestinal uptake properties of administered alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocotrienol would characterize their plasma level transitions in mice.

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