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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Nov;301(5):G846-55. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00485.2010. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Assessment of the protective effects of oral tocotrienols in arginine chronic-like pancreatitis.

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Grup de Recerca en Patologia Pancreàtica Exocrina, Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Institut de Recerca, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, CIBER-EHD, Barcelona, Spain.


Tocotrienols exhibit anti-inflammatory properties over macrophages and promote cytotoxicity in activated pancreatic stellate cells, suggesting that they may limit chronic pancreatitis progression. We aimed to quantitate the effect of oral tocotrienols on a rat model of chronic pancreatic injury. Chronic-like pancreatitis was induced by repeated arginine pancreatitis. Palm oil tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) was given by gavage before and after pancreatitis inductions. Amylase and hydroxyproline were determined in pancreatic homogenates; collagen, fibronectin, α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and phosphorylated Smad3 were assessed by Western blotting. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 was measured in plasma. Morphological assessment included light microscopy, fibrosis area fraction, and collagen network fractal analysis. Arginine pancreatitis induced pancreatic atrophy and increased hydroxyproline that ameliorated after TRF. Arginine increased TGF-β1 (185 ± 40 vs. 15 ± 2 ng/ml; P <0.01) that was blunted by TRF (53 ± 19; P < 0.01). TRF reduced protease and Smad3 activation, collagen, and fibronectin. α-SMA increased and GFAP diminished in arginine pancreatitis, consistent with long-term stellate cell activation, and TRF reverted these changes to basal. Arginine pancreatitis increased fibrosis area fraction (4.5 ± 0.3% vs. 0.2 ± 0.2%), collagen network complexity (fractal dimension 1.52 ± 0.03 vs. 1.42 ± 0.01; P < 0.001), and inhomogeneity (lacunarity 0.63 ± 0.03 vs. 0.40 ± 0.02; P < 0.001), which were all reduced by TRF (1.3 ± 0.4%, 1.43 ± 0.02%, and 0.51 ± 0.03%, respectively; P < 0.01). Best correlation coefficients were obtained when comparing fibrosis area fraction with lacunarity (r = 0.88) and both parameters with pancreatic weight (r = -0.91 and -0.79, respectively). TRF administered only before pancreatitis best, but not fully, recapitulated the beneficial effects of TRF. Tocotrienols improve quantitative measures of chronic pancreatic damage. They may be of benefit in human chronic pancreatitis.

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