Breast Cancer Therapy With Alpha-TEA, A Vitamin E Derivative
Posted Mar 25 2011 10:27am
Vitamin E has been reported to have a number of possible health benefits beyond meeting our nutritional needs. These potential health benefits have been linked to the antioxidant and immune modulating properties of vitamin E. While we generally think of vitamin E as a single compound, it is actually composed of at least six different compounds, 3 tocopherols and 3 tocotrienols. Many of these individual components have been the focus of various research efforts. Over the last few years, one of alpha-tocopherol's derivatives, alpha-tocopherylacetic acid (alpha-TEA), has been shown to have breast cancer fighting properties in cell culture and animal studies. Two new breast cancer studies have recently continued to explore the breast cancer treatment possibilities of alpha-TEA.
In one study ( free to download ), breast cancer researchers tested the effect of alpha-TEA on the immune response to breast cancer tumors. For these studies, mice were implanted with breast cancer tumor cells. After the tumors were established, mice were fed a diet containing alpha-TEA such that each mouse received about 6 mg alpha-TEA per day. The results of this research study demonstrated that
Alpha-TEA consumption enhanced the level of immune cells in the breast cancer tumor.
Consumption of alpha-TEA increased the production of immune chemicals by immune cells in the tumor.
Dietary alpha-TEA given to mice with established breast cancer tumors was able to substantially suppress tumor growth after about 8 days of consumption and resulted in about a 1.6-fold reduction in tumor area.
Alpha-TEA consumption prolonged survival of mice implanted with breast cancer tumors.
These are fascinating results that demonstrate that this vitamin E derivative can enhance the body's immune response to breast cancer, which leads to suppression of tumor growth and prolonged breast cancer survival. Previous research has shown that this same compound can directly kill breast cancer cells. Therefore, this new study suggests that alpha-TEA can fight breast cancer through multiple pathways.
In a second study ( free to download ), breast cancer researchers studied the ability of alpha-TEA to kill triple negative breast cancer cells in combination with the chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin and cisplatin. For this study, 3 triple negative breast cancer cells lines with a mutated p53 gene were treated with alpha-TEA in combination with each chemotherapy drug. The p53 gene is normally involved in cancer suppression, but breast cancers can grow when this gene is mutated. The study investigators reported that
Combination treatments of alpha-TEA with doxorubicin and alpha-TEA with cisplatin both induced the death of triple negative breast cancer cells.
Induction of triple negative breast cancer cell death was mediated (at least in part) by the p73 gene, which works through some of the same pathways as the p53 gene, indicating that the combination treatments were able to overcome or bypass the p53 gene mutation.
These are potentially important results. Triple negative breast cancers typically become resistant to both doxorubicin and cisplatin, which makes treating triple negative breast cancers extremely difficult. Overcoming this resistance is a critical step in fighting triple negative breast cancer. The results of this study suggestst that alpha-TEA might be one approach to fighting this aggressive form of breast cancer.
Overall, both of these studies suggest that alpha-TEA might have beneficial breast cancer fighting properties and might work through multiple pathways. Future studies in a clinical setting are imperative to determine if this vitamin E analog can have a positive benefit for breast cancer patients.