Molecular nutrition & food research

Vitamin E transport, membrane incorporation and cell metabolism: Is alpha-tocopherol in lipid rafts an oar in the lifeboat?

PMID 20166147


Vitamin E is composed of closely related compounds, including tocopherols and tocotrienols. Studies of the last decade provide strong support for a specific role of alpha-tocopherol in cell signalling and the regulation of gene expression. It produces significant effects on inflammation, cell proliferation and apoptosis that are not shared by other vitamin E isomers with similar antioxidant properties. The different behaviours of vitamin E isomers might relate, at least in part, to the specific effects they exert at the plasma membrane. alpha-Tocopherol is not randomly distributed throughout the phospholipid bilayer of biological membranes, and as compared with other isomers, it shows a propensity to associate with lipid rafts. Distinct aspects of vitamin E transport and metabolism is discussed with emphasis on the interaction between alpha-tocopherol and lipid rafts and the consequences of these interactions on cell metabolism.