Vitamin Eδ-tocotrienol augments the antitumor activity of gemcitabine and suppresses constitutive NF-κB activation in pancreatic cancer.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2011 Dec ;10(12):2363-72. Epub 2011 Oct 4. PMID: 21971120
The NF-κB transcription factor functions as a crucial regulator of cell survival and chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer. Recent studies suggest that tocotrienols, which are the unsaturated forms of vitamin E, are a promising class of anticancer compounds that inhibit the growth and survival of many cancer cells, including pancreatic cancer. Here, we show that tocotrienols inhibited NF-κB activity and the survival of human pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, we found the bioactivity of the four natural tocotrienol compounds (α-, β-, δ-, and γ-tocotrienol) to be directlyrelated to their ability to suppress NF-κB activity in vitro and in vivo. The most bioactive tocotrienol for pancreatic cancer, δ-tocotrienol, significantly enhanced the efficacy of gemcitabine to inhibit pancreatic cancer growth and survival in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we found that δ-tocotrienol augmentation of gemcitabine activity in pancreatic cancer cells and tumors is associated with significant suppression of NF-κB activity and the expression of NF-κB transcriptional targets (Bcl-X(L), X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis, and survivin). Our study represents the first comprehensivepreclinical evaluation of the activity of natural vitamin E compounds in pancreatic cancer. Given these results, we are conducting a phase I trial of δ-tocotrienol in patients with pancreatic cancer using pancreatic tumor cell survival and NF-κB signaling components as intermediate biomarkers. Ourdata also support future clinical investigation of δ-tocotrienol to augment gemcitabine activity in pancreatic cancer.