Dietary apigenin and naringenin protect against colon carcinogenesis by lowering high multiplicity aberrant crypt foci and enhancing apoptosis in azoxymethane-treated rats
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Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. However, evidence indicates that a proper diet abundant in fruits and vegetables may be protective against colon cancer development. Bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables, such as flavonoids and limonoids, have been shown to possess anti-proliferative and antitumorigenic effects in various in vitro and in vivo models of cancer. Since there are few animal studies involving flavonoids and limonoids and colon cancer, this experiment investigated the potentially protective effects of four citrus flavonoids and one limonoid mixture against the promotion stage of chemically-induced colon cancer in rats. Male SD rats (n =60; 10 rats/group) were assigned to receive diets containing 0.1% apigenin, 0.02% naringenin, 0.1% hesperidin, 0.01% nobiletin, 0.035% limonin glucoside/obacunone glucoside mixture, or a control diet (0% flavonoid/limonoid). Rats received the diets for 10 wk and were injected with azoxymethane (15 mg/kg) at wk 3 and 4. The excised colons were evaluated for aberrant crypt foci (ACF) formation, cell proliferation (PCNA assay), apoptosis (TUNEL assay), and iNOS and COX-2 expression. When compared to the control diet, apigenin lowered the number of high multiplicity ACF (> 4 AC/focus) by 57% (P<0.05) and tended to lower the proliferative index (28%; P=0.07), while naringenin lowered both the number of high multiplicity ACF by 51% (P<0.05) and the proliferative index by 32% (P<0.05). Both apigenin and naringenin increased apoptosis of surface colon cells (78% and 97%, respectively; P<0.05) when compared to control diet. Hesperidin, nobiletin, and the limoninglucoside/obacunone glucoside mixture did not have any effects on the above variables measured in this model of colon carcinogenesis. The colonic mucosal protein levels of iNOS or COX-2 were not different among the six diet groups. Evidence suggests that high multiplicity ACF are indicative of future tumor development in both humans and rats. Furthermore, dysregulated proliferation and apoptosis may also lead to tumorigenesis. Therefore, the ability of dietary apigenin and naringenin to reduce high multiplicity ACF, lower proliferation, and increase apoptosis may contribute toward colon cancer prevention. However, their protection is not due to their influence on iNOS and COX-2 protein levels.
Leonardi, Tety (2003). Dietary apigenin and naringenin protect against colon carcinogenesis by lowering high multiplicity aberrant crypt foci and enhancing apoptosis in azoxymethane-treated rats. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from