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Int J Cancer. 1998 Jul 17;77(2):286-94.

Fasting/re-feeding before initiation enhances the growth of aberrant crypt foci induced by azoxymethane in rat colon and rectum.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche e Biologiche, Ospedale S. Luigi Gonzaga, Università degli Studi di Torino, Orbassano (TO), Italy.


In contrast to the protective effect of chronic caloric restriction on tumor development, we have shown that fasting sustained tumor initiation in rat liver by a noninitiating dose of diethylnitrosamine. Here we investigated whether fasting had a similar favorable effect on initiation in the colorectal mucosa in 80 male F344 rats. Animals fasted for 4 days were given a single s.c. dose of azoxymethane (AOM) (20 mg/kg) on the first day of re-feeding, and rates of kinetic proliferative parameters, and development of the pre-neoplastic lesions such as aberrant crypt foci (ACF), were evaluated. Starvation before AOM treatment enhanced the growth of ACF, as shown by the significantly higher crypt multiplicity of fasted/re-fed rats as compared with fully fed rats (3.97 +/- 0.50 vs. 2.64 +/- 0.20, p < or = 0.025). This difference was associated with perturbations in cell death and cell proliferation. Fasting induced apoptosis and depressed cell division, while re-feeding had opposite effects, resulting in a higher percentage of S-phase cells at the time of AOM injection and 2 days thereafter. Starvation-induced apoptosis may represent the mitogenic stimulus to an increase in the number of cells susceptible to AOM damage, and may favor its fixation, leading to enhanced growth of ACF. Our data therefore suggest that fasting/re-feeding enhances colon cancer.

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