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Am J Pathol. 2004 Jul;165(1):191-202.

Susceptibility of rats to mammary gland carcinogenesis by the food-derived carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) varies with age and is associated with the induction of differential gene expression.

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  • 1Chemical Carcinogenesis Section, Laboratory of Experimental Carcinogenesis, Center for Cancer Research, Building 37, National Cancer Institute/NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-4262, USA.


2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP), a heterocyclic amine found in cooked meat, induces mammary gland cancer when administered to adolescent female rats (43-day-old). In contrast, mature virgin rats (150-day-old) were resistant to mammary carcinogenesis by PhIP. To explore the possible mechanisms for the age-related differences in susceptibility, PhIP-DNA adduct levels, mutations, and gene expression were examined in glands from 43-day and 150-day-old PhIP-treated rats. In rats of different ages, PhIP-DNA adduct levels detected by the (32)P-post-labeling assay and mutant frequency measured in the lacI reporter gene of Big Blue rats were not statistically different. PhIP-DNA adduct levels, adduct removal, and mutation burden did not appear to account for the variation in carcinogen susceptibility with age. However, cDNA microarray analysis indicated that PhIP treatment differentially altered the profile of gene expression in glands from 43-day-old and 150-day-old rats. In 150-day-old rats, PhIP enhanced the expression of genes associated with differentiation (eg, beta-casein, kappa-casein, whey acidic protein) and induced morphological differentiation. In contrast, in 43-day-old rats, PhIP inhibited the expression of differentiation genes and enhanced cellular proliferation. From 3 hours to 6 weeks after PhIP dosing, the number of clones showing altered expression declined more than 50% in 150-day-old rats but increased fourfold in 43-day-old rats (29 clones versus 194, respectively) suggesting that PhIP induced a cascade of gene expression alterations only in susceptible rats. Genes showing altered expression specifically in 43-day-old rats included the Ras superfamily genes and genes associated with protein synthesis/degradation (lysosomal proteins, heat shock proteins, and proteasomes). The microarray data support the notion that the mechanism of age-dependent susceptibility to mammary gland cancer is largely associated with differential responses in expression of genes involved in cellular differentiation, proliferation, and protein homeostasis.

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