Chemoprevention of DMBA-induced UV-B promoted, NOR-1-induced TPA promoted skin carcinogenesis, and DEN-induced phenobarbital promoted liver tumors in mice by extract of beetroot

Pharmacol Res. 2003 Feb;47(2):141-8. doi: 10.1016/s1043-6618(02)00285-2.


Our previous studies identified the extract of Beta vulgaris (beetroot), commercially also known as betanin, as a potent cancer chemopreventive agent in both in vitro Epstein-Barr early antigen activation assay and in an in vivo two-stage mouse lung and skin carcinogenesis. To explore this issue further, we have now investigated its cancer chemopreventive potentials in three different chemical carcinogen initiation-promotion experimental tumor models in mice. Following tumor initiation with 390 nmol of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA) in 100 microl of acetone, the mouse skin tumor promotion with 3430 J/m(2) of ultraviolet light-B (UV-B) as well as splenomegaly was significantly inhibited by oral administration of 0.0025% betanin. At the same dose, betanin also afforded significant protection in the mouse skin cancer model following the topical application of 390 nmol of (+/-)-(E)-4-methyl-2-[(E)-hydroxyamino]-5-nitro-6-methoxy-3-hexanamide (NOR-1) in 100 microl of acetone and promoted by topical administration of 1.7 nmol of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). In the two-stage model of hepatocarcinogenesis in mice with N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN, 30 mg/kg) as the initiator and phenobarbital as the promoter, oral administration of 0.0025% betanin also showed a very significant inhibition of both the incidence and multiplicity of the liver tumors. These findings along with our initial reports suggest that betanin which is a regularly consumed natural product colorant is an effective cancer chemopreventive agent in mice. The most interesting observation is that the cancer chemopreventive effect was exhibited at a very low dose used in the study and thus indicating that beetroot warrants more attention for possible human applications in the control of malignancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Beta vulgaris / chemistry*
  • Betacyanins
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carcinogens / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Diethylnitrosamine / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Diethylnitrosamine / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Hydroxylamines / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Hydroxylamines / toxicity*
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Phenobarbital / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Phenobarbital / toxicity*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / toxicity
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • (+-)-E-4-methyl-2-((E)-hydroxylamino)-5-nitro-6-methoxy-3-hexanamide
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Betacyanins
  • Carcinogens
  • Hydroxylamines
  • Indoles
  • Plant Extracts
  • Diethylnitrosamine
  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • betanin
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • Phenobarbital