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Cancer Res. 1995 Sep 15;55(18):4059-64.

Chemoprevention of rat oral carcinogenesis by naturally occurring xanthophylls, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin.

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First Department of Pathology, Gifu University School of Medicine, Japan.


The chemopreventive effects of two xanthophylls, astaxanthin (AX) and canthaxanthin (CX) on oral carcinogenesis induced by 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide (4-NQO) was investigated in male F344 rats. Rats were given 20 ppm of 4-NQO in their drinking water for 8 weeks to induce oral neoplasms or preneoplasms. Animals were fed diets containing 100 ppm AX or CX during the initiation or postinitiation phase of 4-NQO-induced oral carcinogenesis. The others contained the groups of rats treated with AX or CX alone and untreated. At the end of the study (week 32), the incidences of preneoplastic lesions and neoplasms in the oral cavity of rats treated with 4-NQO and AX or CX were significantly smaller than those of rats given 4-NQO alone (P < 0.001). In particular, no oral neoplasms developed in rats fed AX and CX during the 4-NQO exposure and in those given CX after the 4-NQO administration. Similarly, the incidences of oral preneoplastic lesions (hyperplasia and dysplasia) in rats treated with 4-NQO and AX or CX were significantly smaller than that of the 4-NQO-alone group (P < 0.05). In addition to such tumor inhibitory potential, dietary exposure of AX or CX decreased cell proliferation activity in the nonlesional squamous epithelium exposed to 4-NQO as revealed by measuring the silver-stained nucleolar organizer regions protein number/nucleus and 5'-bromodeoxyuridine-labeling index. Also, dietary AX and CX could reduce polyamine levels of oral mucosal tissues exposed to 4-NQO. These results indicate that AX and CX are possible chemopreventers for oral carcinogenesis, and such effects may be partly due to suppression of cell proliferation.

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