Research: CHIN and SOELAIMAN,

Listed in Issue 247


CHIN and SOELAIMAN, (1)Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia,  Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. reviewed the possible mechanisms of action of tocotrienol – as a potential anti-osteoporotic agent.


Osteoporosis is posing a tremendous healthcare problem globally. Much effort has been invested in finding novel anti-osteoporotic agents to stop the progression of this disease.


Tocotrienol, one of the isoforms of vitamin E, is poised as a potential anti-osteoporotic agent. Previous studies showed that tocotrienol as a single isomer or as a mixture demonstrated both anabolic and anti-resorptive effects in various rodent models of osteoporosis.


In vitro experiments further demonstrated that tocotrienol could up-regulate genes related to osteoblastogenesis and modify receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B signalling against osteoclastogenesis. Additionally, tocotrienol was also shown to be a strong 3- hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase down-regulator with a mechanism different from that of statins. Inhibition of the mevalonate pathway affects both osteoblast and osteoclast formation in favour of the former. Tocopherol, a more commonly used isoform of vitamin E does not possess similar effects. Tocotrienol is also a potent antioxidant. It can scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative damage on osteoblast thus promoting its survival. It may also up-regulate the antioxidant defence network in osteoclast and indirectly act against free radical signalling essential in osteoclastogenesis. The effects of tocotrienol on Wnt/β-catenin signalling essential in osteoblastogenesis have not been determined.


More mechanistic studies need to be conducted to illustrate the anti-osteoporotic effects of tocotrienol. Clinical trials are also required to confirm its effects in humans. In conclusion, tocotrienol demonstrates great potential as an anti-osteoporotic agent and much research effort should be invested to develop it as an agent to curb osteoporosis.


Chin KY(1), Mo H, Soelaiman IN. A review of the possible mechanisms of action of tocotrienol - a potential antiosteoporotic agent. Curr Drug Targets. 14(13):1533-41. Dec 2013.

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