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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Apr;5(4):644-54. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0521. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

δ- and γ-tocopherols, but not α-tocopherol, inhibit colon carcinogenesis in azoxymethane-treated F344 rats.

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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.


The cancer preventive activity of vitamin E has been extensively discussed, but the activities of specific forms of tocopherols have not received sufficient attention. Herein, we compared the activities of δ-tocopherol (δ-T), γ-T, and α-T in a colon carcinogenesis model. Male F344 rats, seven weeks old, were given two weekly subcutaneous injections of azoxymethane (AOM) each at a dose of 15 mg/kg body weight. Starting 1 week before the AOM injection, the animals were maintained on a modified AIN76A diet, or the same diet containing 0.2% of δ-T, γ-T, α-T, or a γ-T-rich mixture of tocopherols (γ-TmT), until the termination of the experiment at 8 weeks after the second AOM injection. δ-T treatment showed the strongest inhibitory effect, decreasing the numbers of aberrant crypt foci by 62%. γ-T and γ-TmT were also effective, but α-T was not. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that δ-T and γ-T treatments reduced the levels of 4-hydroxynonenal and nitrotyrosine and the expression of cyclin D1 in the colon, preserved the expression of PPAR-γ, and decreased the serum levels of prostaglandin E2 and 8-isoprostane. Supplementation with 0.2% δ-T, γ-T, or α-T increased the respective levels of tocopherols and their side-chain degradation metabolites in the serum and colon tissues. Rather high concentrations of δ-T and γ-T and their metabolites were found in colon tissues. Our study provides the first evidence for the much higher cancer preventive activity of δ-T and γ-T than α-T in a chemically induced colon carcinogenesis model. It further suggests that δ-T is more effective than γ-T.

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