Tocotrienols protect differentiated SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells against 6-hydroxydopamine-induced cytotoxicity by ameliorating dopamine biosynthesis and dopamine receptor D2 gene expression

Kasthuri Bai Magalingam, Sushela Devi Somanath, Shadab Md, Nagaraja Haleagrahara, Ju-Yen Fu, Kanga Rani Selvaduray, Ammu Kutty Radhakrishnan

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Oxidative stress is a critical factor that triggers a “domino” cascade of events leading to the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson disease. Tocotrienols (T3) have antioxidant effects and can protect neuronal cells against oxidative damage. In the present study, we investigated the neuroprotective effects of different forms of T3 (alpha, delta, gamma) or tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) against 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced oxidative damage in differentiated SH-SY5Y human neural cells. Differentiating the SH-SY5Y cells with retinoic acid and a low-serum culture medium for 6 days allowed development of human dopamine-like neural cells. Subsequently, the differentiated SH-SY5Y neural cells were pretreated with different forms of T3 for 24 hours before these cells were exposed to 6-OHDA. The T3 analogues and TRF displayed neuroprotective effects (P < .05) via restoration of cell viability and activation of antioxidant enzymes (e.g., superoxide dismutase, catalase). Notably, TRF was highly efficient in scavenging reactive oxygen species and upregulating dopamine and tyrosine hydroxylase levels in the differentiated SH-SY5Y cells. Gamma-T3 exhibited the most potent effects in attenuating apoptosis, whereas alpha-T3 was most effective in preventing 6-OHDA-induced leakage of α-Synuclein. Delta-T3 displayed a noticeable effect in upregulating the dopamine receptor D2 gene expression compared with controls. These findings suggest T3 isoforms and TRF demonstrate significant neuroprotective effects in protecting differentiated neural cells against 6-OHDA-mediated oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalNutrition Research
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • 6-hydroxydopamine
  • differentiated SH-SY5Y neural cells
  • Parkinson's disease
  • tocotrienol isoforms
  • tocotrienol rich fraction

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