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Biofactors. 2012 Jan-Feb;38(1):24-33. doi: 10.1002/biof.198. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

α-Tocopheryl phosphate--an activated form of vitamin E important for angiogenesis and vasculogenesis?

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Vascular Biology Laboratory, JM USDA-Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA.


Vitamin E was originally discovered as a dietary factor essential for reproduction in rats. Since then, vitamin E has revealed many important molecular properties such as the scavenging of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species or the modulation of signal transduction and gene expression in antioxidant and nonantioxidant manners. A congenital disease, ataxia with vitamin E deficiency, which is characterized by impaired enrichment of α-tocopherol (αT) in plasma due to mutations in the α-tocopherol transfer protein gene, has been discovered. An effect of vitamin E on angiogenesis and vasculogenesis has been observed in several studies, and recently, it has been demonstrated in the placenta of pregnant ewes, possibly involving the stimulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression. We recently observed that the phosphorylated form of αT, α-tocopheryl phosphate (αTP), increases the expression of VEGF. We propose that the stimulatory effect of αT on angiogenesis and vasculogenesis is potentiated by phosphorylation to αTP, which may act as a cofactor or active lipid mediator increasing VEGF expression. Increased VEGF expression and consequent enhanced angiogenesis and vasculogenesis induced by αTP may explain not only the essential roles of vitamin E on reproduction, but also its beneficial effects against pre-eclampsia, ischemia/reperfusion injury, and during wound healing. It may also serve as a survival factor for brain and muscle cells. The finding that αTP may regulate vasculogenesis may indicate potential, important pathophysiological implications.

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