Vitamin E 80th anniversary: A double life, not only fighting radicals

R. Ricciarelli, J. M. Zingg, A. Azzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Recent research on α-tocopherol has revealed specific cellular functions of this compound belonging to the vitamin E family. α-Tocopherol can act as a radical scavenger, as a pro-oxidant, as an anti-alkylation agent and, most important, by mechanisms that are independent of the above properties. To the last group belong protein kinase C and 5-lipoxygenase inhibition at post-translational level, as well as α-tocopherol activation of protein phosphatase 2A and diacylglycerol kinase. Furthermore, at transcriptional level, several genes (CD36, α-TTP, α-tropomyosin, and collagenase) are modulated by α-tocopherol. These effects result in inhibition of smooth muscle cell proliferation, platelet aggregation, and monocyte adhesion and may be related to the alleged protection of atherosclerosis by vitamin E. On the other side, epidemiological and intervention studies have shown some inconsistent results. Rather than disregarding vitamin E as a means to protect against atherosclerosis progression, it would be wiser to better design clinical trials based on current knowledge of the biological properties of the molecule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalIUBMB life
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidant
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Tocopherol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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