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Int J Oncol. 2000 Jul;17(1):173-9.

Chemoprevention of colon cancer carcinogenesis by balsalazide: inhibition of azoxymethane-induced aberrant crypt formation in the rat colon and intestinal tumor formation in the B6-Min/+ mouse.

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GI Research Lab, VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including aspirin have been shown to suppress colon carcinogenesis and in some cases reduce the size of colorectal polyps. Balsalazide disodium (BSZ) is a colon-specific prodrug of the salicylate, 5-aminosalicylic acid. The aim of the present study was to test the chemopreventive activity of BSZ in two established animal models of colon tumorigenesis, azoxymethane-induced aberrant crypt formation in the rat and intestinal tumor formation in the B6-Min/+ mouse. Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) were induced in Fischer 344 rats via 2 subcutaneous injections of azoxymethane (20 mg/kg). BSZ was supplied in the drinking water for 8 weeks and ACF quantitated. B6-Min/+ mice were treated from 55 days of age for 90 days and intestinal tumors scored for number, size and location. BSZ treatment of AOM-injected rats reduced ACF formation in a dose-dependent manner by 60% with the greatest effect observed on ACF with 4 or more crypts. In B6-Min/+ mice a dose-dependent reduction of intestinal tumor number was observed which reached 80% in the distal small intestine and colon. A preliminary mechanistic study in cultured human colon cancer cells showed that both BSZ and 5-ASA inhibited colon cancer cell proliferation in vitro. However, 5-ASA but not BSZ produced changes consistent with the induction of apoptosis. BSZ produces a dose-dependent chemopreventive effect on colon carcinogenesis. A possible mechanism is consistent with the inhibition of cellular proliferation and the induction of apoptosis.

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