Research: SIGNOUNAS and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 26


SIGNOUNAS and colleagues, Division of Hematology/ Oncology, East Caroline University School of Medicine, Greenville North Carolina USA write that vitamin E, best known as a potent antioxidant, has been shown to have other functions not mediated by this activity. Recent studies have suggested that vitamin E may inhibit smooth muscle cell and cancer cell growth. The authors studied the effect of vitamin E on a number of cancer cell lines, including 2 erythroleukemia, a hormone responsive breast and prostate cancer cell lines .



Cell proliferation was studied in these cell lines, which were maintained at optimal growth conditions.


There was a dose-dependent inhibition of cell growth in all cell lines studied, with the MCF-7 breast and CRL-1740 prostate cancer cell lines showing strong suppression of growth at 0.1 mM vitamin E compared to the erythroleukemia cell lines, HEL and OCIM-1 which responded only at > 0.25 mM vitamin E. Vitamin E supplementation reduced DNA synthesis in all cell lines; analysis of high-molecular-weight DNA revealed extensive fragmentation, indicating apoptosis of all cell lines supplemented with vitamin E.


These results show general inhibition of cell proliferation by vitamin E with breast and prostate cancer cells significantly more sensitive than erythroleukemia cells.


Sigounas G et al. dl-alpha-tocopherol induces apoptosis in erythroleukemia, prostate, and breast cancer cells. Nutr Cancer. 28(1): 30-5. 1997 .

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