Promoting effect of a high-fat/high-protein diet in DMBA-induced ductal pancreatic cancer in rats

Ann Surg. 2001 May;233(5):688-95. doi: 10.1097/00000658-200105000-00013.


Objective: To investigate whether a high-fat/high-protein diet (HFPD) acts as a promoter of the natural course of cancer growth in the 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene (DMBA)-induced ductal pancreatic cancer model in rats.

Summary background data: DMBA implantation to the rat pancreas induces ductal adenocarcinoma. Information regarding the effects of diet and the presence of K-ras mutation in this model is not available.

Methods: Rats were randomly assigned to regular rat chow or a diet with a 30% content in fat and protein (HFPD). The presentation of cancer, the histologic spectrum of neoplasia at 1 and 9 months, and the prevalence of cancer in relation to diet were assessed. Histologic specimens comprising normal ducts, hyperplasia, dysplasia/carcinoma in situ, or carcinoma were designated by a pathologist and microdissected. Genomic DNA was extracted, and K-ras and H-ras gene mutations were determined by a mutant-enriched polymerase chain reaction assay and direct sequencing.

Results: Rats fed HFPD increased their weight significantly compared with controls. DMBA induced characteristic stages of neoplasia at the implant site but not elsewhere. Macroscopic cancers of the pancreatic head presented regularly with common bile duct and gastric outlet obstruction. The prevalence of K-ras mutations was proportional to the degree of epithelial abnormality. K-ras mutations were significantly more frequent in cancer than in normal and hyperplastic ducts. H-ras mutations were not found. At 1 month in the HFPD-fed rats, the prevalence of cancer (16%) and dysplasia (16%) was not significantly different from the prevalence of cancer (29%) and dysplasia (8%) in the chow-fed rats. At 9 months the prevalence of cancer in the HFPD-fed rats increased to 29%, whereas that in the chow-fed rats decreased to 17%. The combined prevalence of cancer and dysplasia at 9 months in the HFPD-fed rats (34%) significantly exceeded that in the chow-fed rats.

Conclusions: DMBA induces characteristic stages of neoplasia in the evolution of ductal pancreatic cancer in rats. K-ras mutations occur progressively in the ladder of oncogenesis, as in human pancreatic neoplasms. The addition of a diet with a high fat and protein content acts as a promoter of carcinogenesis, possibly by interfering with repair mechanisms and natural regression of early lesions.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / etiology*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects*
  • Genes, ras / genetics
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene