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Carcinogenesis. 1997 Dec;18(12):2361-5.

Black tea constituents, theaflavins, inhibit 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice.

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  • 1Laboratory for Cancer Research, College of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08855-0789, USA.


The present study investigated the inhibitory activity against lung tumorigenesis by a group of characteristic black tea polyphenols, theaflavins. In a short-term study, female A/J mice were treated with a single dose of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK; 103 mg/kg b.w., i.p.) on day 0, and 0.1 and 0.3% theaflavins were administered as the sole source of drinking fluid starting 24 h after NNK treatment. The proliferation index of the lung tissues was measured by the incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) immunohistochemically. The highest NNK-induced proliferation rate of bronchiolar cells, observed on day 5, was significantly decreased by 0.3% theaflavins (proliferation index, 1.51 +/- 0.08 versus 2.35 +/- 0.16). In a long-term lung tumorigenesis study, pulmonary adenomas were observed in 100% (30/30) of the mice at week 16 after NNK treatment. Administration of theaflavins (0.1%) as the sole source of drinking fluid, starting 2 days after the NNK treatment until the termination of the experiment, significantly reduced the tumor multiplicity and volume by 23% (8.5 +/- 0.6 versus 6.5 +/- 0.6 tumors/mouse) and 34% (0.08 versus 0.05 mm3 per tumor), respectively. The proliferation index in lung adenomas was also significantly inhibited by theaflavins. The present work demonstrates the inhibitory action of theaflavins against NNK-induced pulmonary hyperproliferation and tumorigenesis.

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