Gamma-Tocotrienol version of Vitamin E helps fight pancreatic cancer

October 01, 2010

Experiments conducted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston demonstrated that Gamma-Tocotrienol helped suppress pancreatic tumor growth as well as making the cancerous tumors more sensitive to gemcitabine, one of two drugs approved to treat the disease.

     In their introduction to the article, Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal and colleagues note that the transcription factor NF-kappaB which tells some dangerous genes what to do, has been associated with cancer cell proliferation, invasion into healthy tissues, angiogenesis or production of a blood supply system to the cancer, metastasis, antiapoptosis (immortality of cancer cells) and chemo-resistance (failure of chemotherapy due to chemical warfare by the tumor) in multiple tumors. Gamma-Tocotrienol, one of the eight members of the vitamin E family, has been shown to inhibit the activation of NF-kappaB in several cancer cell lines, in addition to suppressing the proliferation of a variety of tumor cells.

     In tests using four types of cultured pancreatic cancer cell lines, Gamma-Tocotrienol suppressed the proliferation of all lines, with higher doses and longer exposures producing a greater benefit resulting in almost complete suppression of tumor cell proliferation. The vitamin was found to inhibit NF-kappaB activation and proteins involved with inflammation, in addition to sensitizing the cells to gemcitabine.

     The researchers then tested the effects of Gamma-Tocotrienol and gemcitabine alone and in combination in a mouse model of human pancreatic cancer. Oral Gamma-Tocotrienol administered alone was shown to inhibit tumor growth, a finding that is a first, according to the authors. Additionally as was demonstrated in the cultured cell experiments, Gamma-Tocotrienol enhanced the tumor-fighting ability of gemcitabine. Gamma-Tocotrienol alone was found to suppress NF-kappaB activation, and further suppressed NF-kappaB in gemcitabine-treated tissues.

     “Our study is the first report to suggest that Gamma-Tocotrienol can enhance the apoptotic effect of gemcitabine in various pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro,” the authors announce. “Our findings suggest that Gamma-Tocotrienol can inhibit the growth of human pancreatic tumors and sensitize them to gemcitabine by suppressing of NF-kappaB-mediated inflammatory pathways linked to tumorigenesis.” The research is reported online on September 23, 2010 in the journal Cancer Research.