• vitamin E;
  • tocopherol;
  • breast cancer;
  • estrogen receptor;
  • peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ


Previous clinical and epidemiological studies of vitamin E have used primarily α-tocopherol for the prevention of cancer. However, γ-tocopherol has demonstrated greater anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activity than α-tocopherol in several animal models of cancer. This study assessed the potential chemopreventive activities of a tocopherol mixture containing 58% γ-tocopherol (γ-TmT) in an established rodent model of mammary carcinogenesis. Female ACI rats were utilized due to their sensitivity to 17β-estradiol (E2) to induce mammary hyperplasia and neoplasia. The rats were implanted subcutaneously with sustained release E2 pellets and given dietary 0.3% or 0.5% γ-TmT for 2 or 10 wk. Serum E2 levels were significantly reduced by the treatment with 0.5% γ-TmT. Serum levels of inflammatory markers, prostaglandin E2 and 8-isoprostane, were suppressed by γ-TmT treatment. Histology of mammary glands showed evidence of epithelial hyperplasia in E2-treated rats. Immunohistochemical analysis of the mammary glands revealed a decrease in proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and estrogen receptor α (ERα), while there was an increase in cleaved-caspase 3, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), and nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) in γ-TmT-treated rats. In addition, treatment with γ-TmT resulted in a decrease in the expression of ERα mRNA, whereas mRNA levels of ERβ and PPARγ were increased. In conclusion, γ-TmT was shown to suppress inflammatory markers, inhibit E2-induced cell proliferation, and upregulate PPARγ and Nrf2 expression in mammary hyperplasia, suggesting that γ-TmT may be a promising agent for human breast cancer prevention. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.