Introduction

Tocotrienols, a group of vitamin E stereoisomers, offer many health benefits including their ability to lower cholesterol levels and provide anticancer and tumor-suppressive activities. A diet rich in tocotrienols, especially dietary

Vitamins and Hormones, Volume 75 Copyright 2007, Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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tocotrienols from a tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) of palm oil, reduced the concentration of plasma cholesterol and apolipoprotein B, platelet factor 4, and thromboxane B2, indicating its ability to protect against platelet aggregation and endothelial dysfunction (Qureshi et al., 1991a). Red palm oil is one of the richest sources of carotenoids; together with vitamin E, tocotrienols, and ascorbic acid present in this oil, it represents a powerful network of antiox-idants, which can protect tissues and cells from oxidative damage (Edem, 2002; Hendrich et al., 1994; Krinsky, 1992; Packer, 1992). For rat hearts, the isomers of a-tocotrienol were more proficient in the protection against oxidative stress induced by ischemia-reperfusion than a-tocopherol (Serbinova et al., 1992). Tocotrienols are found to be more effective in central nervous system protection compared to a-tocopherol itself (Sen et al., 2004). In another study, TRF is found to inhibit the glutamate-induced pp60c-src kinase activation in HT4 neuronal cells (Sen et al., 2000). A recent study has indicated that TRF was able to reduce myocardial infarct size and improve postischemic ventricular dysfunction, and reduce the incidence of ventricular arrhythmias (Das et al., 2005b). TRF was also shown to stabilize 20S and 26S proteasome activities and reduce the ischemia-reperfusion-induced increase in c-Src phosphorylation (Das et al., 2005b).

The growing interest in tocotrienols among all other vitamin E isoforms is the purpose of this chapter.

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