Vitamin E isoform γ-tocotrienol protects against emphysema in cigarette smoke-induced COPD

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Inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to emphysema in COPD. Although corticosteroids are the standard of care for COPD, they do not reduce oxidative stress, and a subset of patients is steroid-resistant. Vitamin E isoform γ-tocotrienol possesses both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that may protect against emphysema. We aimed to establish the therapeutic potential of γ-tocotrienol in cigarette smoke-induced COPD models in comparison with prednisolone. BALB/c mice were exposed to cigarette smoke for 2 weeks or 2 months. γ-Tocotrienol and prednisolone were given orally. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and lung tissues were assessed for inflammation, oxidative damage, and regulation of transcription factor activities. Emphysema and lung function were also evaluated. γ-Tocotrienol dose-dependently reduced cigarette smoke-induced BAL fluid neutrophil counts and levels of cytokines, chemokines and oxidative damage biomarkers, and pulmonary pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidant gene expression, but restored lung endogenous antioxidant activities. γ-Tocotrienol acted by inhibiting nuclear translocation of STAT3 and NF-κB, and up-regulating Nrf2 activation in the lungs. In mice exposed to 2-month cigarette smoke, γ-tocotrienol ameliorated bronchial epithelium thickening and destruction of alveolar sacs in lungs, and improved lung functions. In comparison with prednisolone, γ-tocotrienol demonstrated better anti-oxidative efficacy, and protection against emphysema and lung function in COPD. We revealed for the first time the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant efficacies of γ-tocotrienol in cigarette smoke-induced COPD models. In addition, γ-tocotrienol was able to attenuate emphysematous lesions and improve lung function in COPD. γ-Tocotrienol may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of COPD.

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