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Int J Cancer. 2004 Feb 10;108(4):488-92.

Chemoprotective effect of caffeic acid phenethyl ester on promotion in a medium-term rat hepatocarcinogenesis assay.

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Departamento de Biología Celular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN (Cinvestav), México, México.


Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a natural honeybee product exhibits a spectrum of biological activities including anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumoral actions. CAPE is also chemopreventive against intestinal, colon and skin cancer. Our aim was to extend the study of its chemoprotective features to the promotion of hepatocarcinogenesis. Male Wistar rats were subjected to a protocol under a modified promotion regimen of the resistant hepatocyte model. The altered hepatic foci (AHF) were quantitatively analyzed by histochemistry and image processing. When given during promotion, CAPE (20 mg/kg) decreased the expression of number and area gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) positive AHF by 91% and 97%, respectively. When GGT expression was analyzed by RT-PCR, CAPE drastically decreased and prevented expression of almost all GGT transcripts at this stage of the carcinogenic process. Glutathione S-transferase placental form (GST-P), another protein marker for preneoplastic lesions was measured by Western blot and a decrease of 82% was observed. Additionally, we evaluated the effect of CAPE on the expression of nuclear factor NF-kappaB and found an 85% decrease in nuclear localization of the p65 subunit of NF-kappaB; however, their repressor, IkappaBalpha was not modified. Our results showed that CAPE given during promotion in hepatocarcinogenesis protects against induction of GGT-positive AHF, GST-P protein, GGT mRNA expression and translocation of p65. This phenomenon was independent of IkappaBalpha degradation.

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