Palm Oil Developments No.44 (June 2006) p16-20

The Potential for Tocotrienols in Inflammation

YAM Mun Li, SITTI RAHMA Abdul Hafid , NESARETNAM, Kalanithi

Inflammation has close relationships with almost all diseases from fever to allergy and cancer. While inflammation can bring on white blood cells to ward off minor infections and promote healing, the same process may lead to devastating damage if not controlled. Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis cause lifelong suffering to patients and, as a result, economic loss through decline in productivity. From these perspectives, there is an urgent need to address the problem of inflammation. Dietary modification is one viable approach as it is a simple yet effective way to tackle the problem. Increasing dietary intake of antioxidants in particular may be helpful in relieving inflammatory conditions. For instance, the anti-inflammatory potential of tocotrienols looks promising enough to merit further study. As a process, inflammation is a complex immune response intended to protect the body from various harmful agents such as microbes and toxins. It is characterized by five cardinal features, namely, heat (calor), redness (rubor), swelling (tumour), pain (dolor) and loss of function (function laesa) (Mitchell and Cotran, 2003). The sensation of heat is caused by increased blood flow through dilated blood vessels, resulting in redness of the area. Subsequently, fluid moves from the leaky blood vessels into surrounding tissues, causing the area to swell. Swelling or oedema leads to stretching of sensory nerves, causing pain to the affected area. In addition to that, other inflammatory mediators released during the process may contribute to the pain sensation. All these result in loss of function, which refers to either a simple loss of joint mobility due to oedema or pain, or to the replacement of functional cells with scar tissue (Punchard et al., 2004).

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