Affiliation: Laboratory of Molecular Patho-Physiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Toyo Universirty, 1-1-1 Izumino, Itakura, Oura, Gunma 374-0923, Japan.
Vitamins are prominent among natural or endogenous compounds that are considered to be beneficial for both prevention and therapy of various human ailments. The vitamin E group of compounds composed of tocopherol and tocotrienol isoforms, has been subsequently proven to have health benefits including antioxidant and related protective properties. However, individual isoforms exhibit a wide-range of antioxidant potencies. Tocotrienol (T3) displays powerful anticancer activity that is often not exhibited by tocopherols, by modulating multiple intracellular signaling pathways associated with tumor cell proliferation and survival. The anticancer effect of T3 remains not fully understood but generally is mediated independently of its antioxidant activity. Further we have synthesized a new redox-inactive analogue of T3, 6-O-carboxypropyl-α-tocotrienol (T3E) showing considerable promise for stronger anticancer potency than its mother compound. In this mini-review, we particularly focus upon the anticancer action of the above active components of vitamin E and describe current research on the anticancer effects of T3 irrespective of antioxidant activity.