Effect of tocotrienols on the growth of a human breast cancer cell line in culture


The tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) of palm oil consists of tocotrienols and some α-tocopherol (α-T). Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E having an unsaturated side-chain, rather than the saturated side-chain of the more common tocopherols. Because palm oil has been shown not to promote chemically-induced mammary carcinogenesis, we tested effects of TRF and α-T on the proliferation, growth, and plating efficiency (PE) of MDA-MB-435 estrogen-receptor-negative human breast cancer cells. TRF inhibited the proliferation of these cells with a concentration required to inhibit cell proliferation by 50% of 180 μg/mL, whereas α-T had no effect at concentrations up to 1000 μg/mL as measured by incorporation of [3H]thymidine. The effects of TRF and α-T also were tested in longer-term growth experiments, using concentrations of 180 and 500 μg/mL. We found that TRF inhibited the growth of these cells by 50%, whereas α-T did not. Their effect on the ability of these cells to form colonies also was studied, and it was found that TRF inhibited PE, whereas α-T had no effect. These results suggest that the inhibition is due to the presence of tocotrienols in TRF rather than α-T.

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3,(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide


plating efficiency


tocotrienol-rich fraction


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Correspondence to Kalanithi Nesaretnam.

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Nesaretnam, K., Guthrie, N., Chambers, A.F. et al. Effect of tocotrienols on the growth of a human breast cancer cell line in culture. Lipids 30, 1139–1143 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02536615

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  • Human Breast Cancer Cell
  • Human Breast Cancer Cell Line
  • DMBA
  • Tocotrienols
  • Plate Efficiency