Vitamin E refers to a family of several compounds that possess a similar chemical structure comprising a chromanol ring with a 16-carbon side chain. The degree of saturation of the side chain, and positions and nature of methyl groups designate the compounds as tocopherols or tocotrienols. Vitamin E compounds have antioxidant properties due to a hydroxyl group on the chromanol ring. Recently, it has been suggested that vitamin E may also regulate signal transduction and gene expression. We previously reported that lifelong dietary vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) supplementation significantly increased median lifespan in C57BL/6 mice by 15%. This lifespan extension appeared to be independent of any antioxidant effect. Employing a transcriptional approach, we suggest that this increase in lifespan may reflect an anti-cancer effect via induction of the P21 signalling pathway, since cancer is the major cause of death in small rodents. We suggest that the role of this pathway in life span extension following supplementation of vitamin E now requires further investigation.
- oxidative stress
- vitamin E