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Cancer Res. 1999 Jul 1;59(13):3084-9.

Chemoprevention of rat prostate carcinogenesis by early and delayed administration of dehydroepiandrosterone.

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  • 1Experimental Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Division, IIT Research Institute, Chicago, Illinois 60616, USA.


Two in vivo bioassays were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) as an inhibitor of prostate carcinogenesis in rats. Prostate adenocarcinomas were induced in male Wistar-Unilever rats by a sequential regimen of cyproterone acetate and testosterone propionate, followed by a single i.v. injection of N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) and chronic androgen stimulation. In the first experiment, DHEA (1000 or 2000 mg/kg diet) was administered continuously to rats beginning 1 week before MNU exposure. In the second experiment, continuous administration of DHEA (2000 mg/kg diet) was begun either 1 week before, 20 weeks after, or 40 weeks after MNU exposure. Controls received basal diet without added DHEA. Studies were terminated at 13 months after MNU administration, and prostate cancer incidence was determined by histopathological evaluation of step sections of accessory sex glands. In the first study, continuous dietary administration of DHEA beginning 1 week before MNU resulted in a dose-related inhibition of prostate cancer induction. In the second experiment, comparable reductions in prostate cancer incidence were observed in groups exposed to DHEA beginning 1 week before, 20 weeks after, and 40 weeks after carcinogen exposure. These data demonstrate that nontoxic doses of DHEA confer significant protection against prostate carcinogenesis in rats. The efficacy of delayed administration of DHEA suggests that the compound confers protection against later stages of prostate cancer induction and can suppress the progression of existing preneoplastic lesions to invasive disease.

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