Gamma-tocotrienol inhibits prostate cancer stem cells
Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have found that gamma-tocotrienol, one of eight forms of vitamin E, could help prevent prostate cancer regrowth due to an ability to inhibit prostate cancer stem cells. The research was described in an article published online on July 8, 2010 in the International Journal of Cancer.
"Emerging evidence supports that prostate cancer originates from a rare subpopulation of cells, namely prostate cancer stem cells (CSCs)," Dr Patrick Ling and his colleagues write in their introduction to the article. "Conventional therapies for prostate cancer are believed to mainly target the majority of differentiated tumor cells but spare CSCs, which may account for the subsequent disease relapse after treatment. Therefore, successful elimination of CSCs may be an effective strategy to achieve complete remission from this disease."
The authors note that gamma-tocotrienol has shown a suppressive effect in a number of cancers. Earlier research conducted by Dr Ling found that treatment with gamma-tocotrienol inhibited prostate cancer cell invasion as well as increased the sensitivity of the cells to programmed death induced by the chemotherapeutic agent docetaxel.
The current experiments demonstrated for the first time that gamma-tocotrienol downregulates the expression of prostate cancer stem cell markers in androgen-independent prostate cancer cell lines. Pretreatment of one of the cell lines with gamma-tocotrienol was found to suppress the cells' ability to initiate tumor growth.
Dr Ling noted that in studies with mice implanted with prostate cancer cells, gamma-tocotrienol inhibited tumor formation in over 70 percent of the animals.
"Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in developed countries," Dr Ling remarked. "It is responsible for more male deaths than any other cancer, except lung cancer."
"Currently there is no effective treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, because it grows back after conventional therapies in more than 70 percent of cases," he observed. "But with gamma-tocotrienol, QUT researchers have found a better way to treat prostate cancer, which has the potential to inhibit recurrence of the disease."
"Previous clinical trials using another vitamin E constituent to inhibit prostate cancer development were unsuccessful, but these trials did not use the vitamin E constituent gamma-tocotrienol," he added. "Other research has found gamma-tocotrienol is also effective in suppressing other types of cancer, including breast, colon, liver and gastric."
The human body is certainly no less of a high-performance engine than that of an airplane or car. Yet, although we appreciate the preventive maintenance that is part of the strategy of engine survival, we are inconsistent when we too often ignore the needs of our own bodies--that is, until we have signs of engine breakdown. As many of us love our cars and care for them, we must do the same with our bodies.
Selenium intake of at least 200 mcg a day should be a consideration in the prevention of prostate cancer (PC). Low plasma selenium is associated with a four- to fivefold increased risk of PC. In addition, levels of plasma selenium also decrease with age, resulting in middle-aged to older men being at a higher risk for low selenium levels. Ideally, baseline levels of selenium should be obtained before beginning routine selenium supplementation. It would make sense to begin such a micronutrient and mineral assessment at age 25 and perhaps every 10 years thereafter.
A large-scale study of almost 11,000 men in Maryland showed that the protective effects of high selenium levels, and similarly that of the alpha-tocopherol isomer of vitamin E, were only observed when the concentrations of the gamma tocopherol isomer of vitamin E were also high. In this study, the risk of prostate cancer declined with increasing concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, with the highest concentration associated with a 68% PC risk reduction. For gamma-tocopherol, men with levels in the highest fifth of the distribution had a fivefold greater reduction in the risk of developing PC than men in the lowest fifth (p = .002). The observed interaction between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and selenium suggested that combined alpha- and gamma-tocopherol supplements, used in conjunction with selenium, should be considered in future PC prevention trials.
In another study, vitamin E succinate inhibited cell growth of PC cells in the LNCaP line by suppressing androgen receptor expression and PSA expression. The combination of Eulexin (flutamide) with vitamin E succinate resulted in a more significant inhibition of LNCaP cell growth. The same investigators demonstrated that selenomethionine also showed an inhibitory effect on LNCaP cell growth but that this appeared to be independent of androgen receptor or PSA pathways.
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