Phytic acid in wheat bran affects colon morphology, cell differentiation and apoptosis

Carcinogenesis. 2000 Aug;21(8):1547-52.


Wheat bran (WB) and its component phytic acid (PA) have both been shown to decrease early biomarkers of colon carcinogenesis, i.e. the PCNA labeling index of cell proliferation and certain aberrant crypt foci parameters. However, it is not known how WB and PA alter other biomarkers of colon cancer risk, such as rate of apoptosis and degree of differentiation, or how they affect colon morphology. Thus, the objectives of this study were to determine the effects of WB on these parameters, to see if PA contributes to these effects and whether there is a difference between endogenous and exogenously added PA. Five groups of azoxymethane-treated male Fischer 344 rats were fed a basal control diet (BD) or BD supplemented with either 25% wheat bran, 25% dephytinized wheat bran (DWB), 25% DWB plus 1.0% PA or 1.0% PA for 100 days. The WB, DWB and PA diets significantly increased the rate of apoptosis and cell differentiation in the whole crypt and the top 40% of the crypt. The WB, DWB and PA diets also significantly increased cell apoptosis in the bottom 60% of the crypt, while all the treatment groups significantly increased cell differentiation versus the BD group in the bottom 60% of the crypt. In addition, the WB, DWB and PA diets decreased the number of crypts per millimeter of colon, while the DWB and PA diets also decreased crypt height measured as number of cells. It is concluded that WB, partly due to its dietary fiber and endogenous PA, and exogenous PA when added to a low fiber diet can increase cell apoptosis and differentiation and favorably affect colon morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Azoxymethane
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinogens
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Colon / cytology
  • Colon / drug effects*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Lectins / analysis
  • Male
  • Mucins / biosynthesis
  • Phytic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Phytic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Precancerous Conditions / chemically induced
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinogens
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Lectins
  • Mucins
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Phytic Acid
  • Azoxymethane