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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Modulation of Cyp3a11 mRNA expression by alpha-tocopherol but not gamma-tocotrienol in mice.

Metabolism of vitamin E is initiated by cytochrome P450 ( CYP) enzymes usually involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics. Like other CYP substrates, vitamin E induced a reporter gene under the control of the pregnane X receptor ( PXR) which regulates the expression of CYPs including CYP3A4. gamma-Tocotrienol, the most effective PXR activator, also induced endogenous CYP3A4 mRNA in HepG2 cells. Since these findings imply an interference of vitamin E with drug metabolism it was deemed necessary to investigate their in vivo relevance. Therefore, mice were grown for 3 months with alpha-tocopherol-deficient, -adequate, and -supranutritional diet, i.e. 2, 20 and 200 mg RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate/kg diet, respectively. Half of them received 250 microg gamma-tocotrienol/day for the last 7 days. After 3 months, hepatic levels of Cyp3a11 mRNA, the murine homolog to human CYP3A4, were about 2.5-fold higher in the 20 and 200 mg alpha-tocopherol groups than in the 2 mg group. After feeding 200 mg alpha-tocopherol for 9 months, Cyp3a11 mRNA was 1.7-fold higher than after 3 months. In contrast, gamma-tocotrienol did not induce Cyp3a11 mRNA. This could be explained by its high metabolism as demonstrated by the 20- to 25-fold increase in the urinary excretion of gamma-CEHC, the final metabolite of gamma-tocotrienol degradation. In conclusion, alpha-tocopherol maintains an adequate level of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes. If fed in supranutritional dosages, especially for longer times, alpha-tocopherol induces Cyp3a11 to levels which might interfere with drug metabolism.[1]


  1. Modulation of Cyp3a11 mRNA expression by alpha-tocopherol but not gamma-tocotrienol in mice. Kluth, D., Landes, N., Pfluger, P., Müller-Schmehl, K., Weiss, K., Bumke-Vogt, C., Ristow, M., Brigelius-Flohé, R. Free Radic. Biol. Med. (2005) [Pubmed]
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