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J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 28;58(8):4844-52. doi: 10.1021/jf904464u.

Analysis of multiple metabolites of tocopherols and tocotrienols in mice and humans.

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Department of Chemical Biology, Center for Cancer Prevention Research, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


Tocopherols and tocotrienols, collectively known as vitamin E, are essential antioxidant nutrients. The biological fates and metabolite profiles of the different forms are not clearly understood. The objective of this study is to simultaneously analyze the metabolites of different tocopherols and tocotrienols in mouse and human samples. Using HPLC/electrochemical detection and mass spectrometry, 18 tocopherol-derived and 24 tocotrienol-derived side-chain degradation metabolites were identified in fecal samples. Short-chain degradation metabolites, in particular gamma- and delta-carboxyethyl hydroxychromans (CEHCs) and carboxymethylbutyl hydroxychromans (CMBHCs) were detected in urine, serum, and liver samples, with tocopherols additionally detected in serum and liver samples. The metabolite profiles of tocotrienols and tocopherols were similar, but new tocotrienol metabolites with double bonds were identified. This is the first comprehensive report describing simultaneous analysis of different side-chain metabolites of tocopherols and tocotrienols in mice and humans. Urinary metabolites may serve as useful biomarkers for the nutritional assessment of vitamin E.

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