The 80th anniversary of vitamin E: Beyond its antioxidant properties

Roberta Ricciarelli, Jean Marc Zingg, Angelo Azzi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Molecules provided with an antioxidant function may have additional properties, the latter being sometimes of greater importance than the former. In the last ten years, α-tocopherol has revealed precise cellular functions, some of which are independent of its antioxidant/radical scavenging ability. At the post-translational level, α-tocopherol inhibits protein kinase C and 5-lipoxygenase and activates protein phosphatase 2A and diacylglycerol kinase. Some genes (CD36, α-TTP, α-tropomyosin, and collagenase) are affected by α-tocopherol at the transcriptional level. α-Tocopherol also induces inhibition of cell proliferation, platelet aggregation and monocyte adhesion. These effects are unrelated to the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, but rather are believed to be a result of specific interactions of vitamin E with components of the cell, e.g. proteins, enzymes and membranes. This review focuses on novel non-antioxidant functions of α-tocopherol and discusses the possibility that many of the effects previously attributed to the antioxidant functions can also be explained by non-antioxidant mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-465
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Chemistry
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidant
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Tocopherol
  • Vitamin E deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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