Plant phenolics decrease intestinal tumors in an animal model of familial adenomatous polyposis

Carcinogenesis. 2000 May;21(5):921-7. doi: 10.1093/carcin/21.5.921.


Epidemiological studies consistently indicate that consumption of fruits and vegetables lowers cancer risk in humans and suggest that certain dietary constituents may be effective in preventing colon cancer. Plant-derived phenolic compounds manifest many beneficial effects and can potentially inhibit several stages of carcinogenesis in vivo. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of several plant-derived phenolics, including caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), curcumin, quercetin and rutin, for the prevention of tumors in C57BL/6J-Min/+ (Min/+) mice. These animals bear a germline mutation in the Apc gene and spontaneously develop numerous intestinal adenomas by 15 weeks of age. At a dietary level of 0.15%, CAPE decreased tumor formation in Min/+ mice by 63%. Curcumin induced a similar tumor inhibition. Quercetin and rutin, however, both failed to alter tumor formation at dietary levels of 2%. Examination of intestinal tissue from the treated animals showed that tumor prevention by CAPE and curcumin was associated with increased enterocyte apoptosis and proliferation. CAPE and curcumin also decreased expression of the oncoprotein beta-catenin in the enterocytes of the Min/+ mouse, an observation previously associated with an antitumor effect. These data place the plant phenolics CAPE and curcumin among a growing list of anti-inflammatory agents that suppress Apc-associated intestinal carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / metabolism
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enterocytes / cytology
  • Enterocytes / drug effects
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Trans-Activators*
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, mouse
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Phenols
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin