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Toxicol Sci. 1999 Dec;52(2 Suppl):17-23.

Short-term fasting and the reversal of the stage of promotion in rat hepatocarcinogenesis: role of cell replication, apoptosis, and gene expression.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and The Center for Environmental Toxicology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53706-1599, USA.


Studies of the multistage nature of hepatocarcinogenesis in the rat have led to the development of models having significant potential application to carcinogenesis in other tissues as well as other species. Whereas the initial and final stages of carcinogenesis-initiation and progression-involve genetic changes and are operationally irreversible, the intermediate stage of promotion is operationally reversible and can be modulated by a variety of environmental factors. Numerous investigations have demonstrated that chronic caloric restriction modifies neoplastic development, primarily during the stage of promotion, so that fewer lesions develop. Short-term fasting of rats, initiated with a nonnecrogenic dose of diethylnitrosamine (DEN) and promoted with 0.05% phenobarbital (PB) for 4 weeks, results in loss of virtually all of the measurable altered hepatic foci (AHF) after two 5-day periods of fasting with an intermediate 2-day period of feeding. This change was accompanied by a marked decrease in bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling of hepatocytes within AHF together with a significant increase in apoptosis of such cells measured by nick end-labeling. Similar but lesser effects were noted in surrounding, nonfocal hepatocytes. On refeeding, both the numbers and volume percentage of AHF returned within 2 weeks to values seen in nonfasted controls. Administration of PB during the fasting period did not alter these results, although AHF reappeared more rapidly in such animals on refeeding. Nuclear DNA fragmentation was evident in samples of whole liver from fasted animals. During this same period the expression of c-myc mRNA increased 3- to 9-fold, while levels of albumin and insulin-like growth factor I mRNAs decreased significantly. This study demonstrates a model system in which the reversibility of the effects of promoting agents may be rapidly determined and the effects of chemopreventive inhibitors of promotion may be rapidly evaluated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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