Chemopreventive activity of very low dose dietary tannic acid administration in hepatoma bearing C3H male mice

Cancer Lett. 1999 Jul 1;141(1-2):57-62. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(99)00145-7.


Tannins are plant polyphenols comprising a heterogeneous group of compounds. Tannic acid is a common tannin found in tea, coffee, immature fruits, etc. and it has also been used as a food additive. An increasing body of experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that tannins exert anticarcinogenic activity in chemically induced cancers in animal models. In the present study, tannic acid was administered in very low doses in the drinking water of C3H male mice divided into three groups (75 mg/l, 150 mg/l and 300 mg/l). These animals carry a genetic defect and show a high incidence of spontaneous liver tumors (> 50%) at an age older than 12 months. The results showed a decrease in the overall incidence of hepatic neoplasms (adenomas plus carcinomas): 53.3% of animals in the control group developed hepatic neoplasms versus 33.3% in the group given a low dose of tannic acid, 26.6% in the group given a medium dose and 13.3% in the high dosage group. The difference was more pronounced in the animals with carcinomas: 4.44% of mice who received tannic acid developed carcinomas versus 33.3% of those in the control group. Tannic acid administration did not affect the PCNA labeling index of normal hepatocytes. It is concluded that tannic acid dietary intake in low doses can exert a strong dose-dependent chemoprotective activity against spontaneous hepatic neoplasm development in C3H male mice, most probably through antipromoting mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / prevention & control*
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hydrolyzable Tannins / therapeutic use*
  • Liver Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Time Factors


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Hydrolyzable Tannins