2011 Volume 57 Issue 5 Pages 326-332
We previously found that 2,7,8-trimethyl-2(2'-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman (γCEHC), a metabolite of the vitamin E isoforms γ-tocopherol or γ-tocotrienol, accumulated in the rat small intestine. The aim of this study was to evaluate tissue distribution of vitamin E metabolites. A single dose of α-tocopherol, γ-tocopherol or a tocotrienol mixture containing α- and γ-tocotrienol was orally administered to rats. Total amounts of conjugated and unconjugated metabolites in the tissues were measured by HPLC with an electrochemical detector, and 6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carboxylic acid (trolox) was used as an internal standard. Twenty-four hours later, the vitamin E isoforms were detected in most tissues and in the serum. However, 2,5,7,8-tetramethyl-2(2'-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman (αCEHC), a metabolite of α-tocopherol or α-tocotrienol, and γCEHC accumulated in the serum and in some tissues including the liver, small intestine and kidney. Administration of α-tocopherol increased the γCEHC concentration in the small intestine, suggesting that α-tocopherol enhances γ-tocopherol catabolism. In contrast, ketoconazole, an inhibitor of cytochrome P450 (CYP)-dependent vitamin E catabolism, markedly decreased the γCEHC concentration. These data indicate that vitamin E metabolite accumulates not only in the liver but also in the small intestine and kidney. We conclude that some dietary vitamin E is catabolized to carboxyethyl-hydroxychroman in the small intestine and is secreted into the circulatory system.