Synergistic anticancer effects of combined γ-tocotrienol with statin or receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment
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- Sylvester, P.W. Genes Nutr (2012) 7: 63. doi:10.1007/s12263-011-0225-y
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Systemic chemotherapy is the only current method of treatment that provides some chance for long-term survival in patients with advanced or metastatic cancer. γ-Tocotrienol is a natural form of vitamin E found in high concentrations in palm oil and displays potent anticancer effects, but limited absorption and transport of by the body has made it difficult to obtain and sustain therapeutic levels in the blood and target tissues. Statins are inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMGCoA) reductase and are an example of a promising cancer chemotherapeutic agent whose clinical usefulness has been limited due to high-dose toxicity. Similarly, erlotinib and gefitinib are anticancer agents that inhibit the activation of individual HER/ErbB receptor subtypes, but have shown limited clinical success because of heterodimerization between different EGF receptor family members that can rescue cancer cells from agents directed against a single receptor subtype. Recent studies have investigated the anticancer effectiveness of low-dose treatment of various statins or EGF receptor inhibitors alone and in combination with γ-tocotrienol on highly malignant +SA mouse mammary epithelial cells in vitro. Combined treatment with subeffective doses of γ-tocotrienol with these other chemotherapeutic agents resulted in a synergistic inhibition of +SA cell growth and viability. These findings strongly suggest that combined treatment of γ-tocotrienol with other anticancer agents may not only provide an enhanced therapeutic response but also provide a means to avoid the toxicity, low bioavailability, or limited therapeutic action associated with high-dose monotherapy.