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Genes Nutr. 2012 Jan;7(1):11-8. doi: 10.1007/s12263-011-0233-y. Epub 2011 May 18.

Metabolism of tocotrienols in animals and synergistic inhibitory actions of tocotrienols with atorvastatin in cancer cells.

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Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research, Department of Chemical Biology and Center for Cancer Prevention Research, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 164 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA.

Abstract

Tocotrienols (T3s), members of the vitamin E family, exhibit potent anti-cancer, anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and some other biological activities. To better understand the bioavailability and metabolism of T3s, T3s and their metabolites were identified in urine and fecal samples from mice on diet supplemented with mixed T3s using HPLC/electrochemical detection and liquid chromatography electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS). Whereas the short-chain metabolites carboxyethyl hydroxychromans (CEHCs) and carboxymethylbutyl hydroxychromans (CMBHCs) were the major metabolites of T3s, several new metabolites with double bonds were also identified. Similar to tocopherols, the majority of T3 metabolites were excreted as sulfate/glucuronide conjugates in mouse urine. The distribution of γ- and δ-T3 and γ-T3 metabolites were also determined in different organs as well as in urine and fecal samples from mice on diets supplemented with corresponding T3s. The synergistic anti-cancer actions of γ-T3 and atorvastatin (ATST) were studied in HT29 and HCT116 colon cancer cell lines. The combination greatly potentiated the ability of each individual agent to inhibit cancer cell growth and to induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. The triple combination of γ-T3, ATST, and celecoxib exhibited synergistic actions when compared with any double combination plus the third agent. Mechanistic studies revealed that the synergistic actions of γ-T3 and ATST could be attributed to their mediation of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase, and the subsequent inhibition of protein geranylgeranylation. It remains to be determined whether such a synergy occurs in vivo.

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