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J Nutr. 2000 Mar;130(3):522-7.

Colonic cell proliferation and aberrant crypt foci formation are inhibited by dairy glycosphingolipids in 1, 2-dimethylhydrazine-treated CF1 mice.

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Department of Biochemistry, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Dietary sphingomyelin (SM) inhibits early stages of colon cancer (appearance of aberrant crypt foci, ACF) and decreases the proportion of adenocarcinomas vs. adenomas in 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-treated CF1 mice. To elucidate the structural specificity of this inhibition, the effects of the other major sphingolipids in milk (glycosphingolipids) were determined. Glucosylceramide (GluCer), lactosylceramide (LacCer) and ganglioside G(D3) were fed individually to DMH-treated (six doses of 30 mg/kg body weight) female CF1 mice at 0.025 or 0.1 g/100 g of the diet for 4 wk. All reduced the number of ACF by > 40% (P < 0.001), which is comparable to the reduction by SM in earlier studies. Immunohistochemical analysis of the colons revealed that sphingolipid feeding also reduced proliferation, with the most profound effect (up to 80%; P < 0.001) in the upper half of the crypts. Since the bioactive backbones of the glycosphingolipids (i.e., ceramide and other metabolites) are the likely mediators of these effects, the susceptibility of these complex sphingolipids to digestion in the colon was examined by incubating 500 microgram of each sphingolipid with colonic segments from mice and analysis of substrate disappearance and product formation by tandem mass spectrometry. All of the sphingolipids (including SM) disappeared over time with a substantial portion appearing as ceramide. Partially hydrolyzed intermediates (such as GluCer from LacCer or G(D3)) were not detected, which suggests that the cleavage involves colonic (or microflora) endoglycosidases. In summary, consumption of dairy SM and glycosphingolipids suppresses colonic cell proliferation and ACF formation in DMH-treated mice; hence, many categories of sphingolipids affect these key events in colon carcinogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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