Background: Tocotrienols (T3) are the naturally occurring vitamin E derivatives that possess
antioxidant properties and therapeutic potential in diabetic complications. The bioactivities of the
derivatives are determined by the number and arrangement of methyl substitution on the structure.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of T3 derivatives, σ-T3, γ-T3 and
α-T3 on insulin secretion of rat pancreatic islets in a dynamic culture.
Method: Pancreatic islets isolated from male Wistar rats were treated with T3 for 1 h at 37°C in a microfluidic
system with continuous operation that provided a stable cell culture environment. Glucose
(2.8 mM and 16.7 mM, as basal and stimulant, respectively) and potassium chloride (KCl) (30 mM)
were added to the treatment in calcium free medium. The supernatant was collected for insulin
Results: Short-term exposure (1 h) of σ-T3 to β cells in the stimulant glucose condition significantly
potentiated insulin secretion in a dose-dependent manner. γ-T3 and α-T3 also displayed dosedependent
effect but were less effective in the activation of insulin secretion. Essentially, KCl, a pancreatic
β cell membrane depolarizing agent, added into the treatment further enhanced the insulin secretion
of σ-T3, γ-T3 and α-T3 with ED50 values of 504, 511 and 588 µM, respectively.
Conclusion: The findings suggest the potential of σ-T3 in regulating glucose-stimulated insulin secretion
(GSIS) in response to the intracellular calcium especially in the presence of KCl.