Because of the multiplicative interaction between dietary aflatoxins and hepatitis B virus infection in the etiology of liver cancer, efforts to reduce the consequences of either chemical or viral component are likely to have substantial public health benefit. Chlorophyllin (CHL), a water-soluble form of chlorophyll, was recently evaluated as a chemopreventive agent in a population at high risk for exposure to aflatoxin and subsequent development of hepatocellular carcinoma. CHL, which is used extensively as a food colorant and has numerous medicinal applications, is an effective anticarcinogen in experimental models including aflatoxin-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. CHL is thought to form molecular complexes with carcinogens, thereby blocking their bioavailability. In the clinical trial, administration of CHL three times a day led to a 50% reduction in the median level of urinary excretion of aflatoxin-N(7)-guanine compared to placebo. This excreted DNA adduct biomarker is derived from the ultimate carcinogenic metabolite of aflatoxin B(1), aflatoxin-8,9-epoxide, and is associated with increased risk of developing liver cancer in prospective epidemiologic studies. Compliance in the intervention was outstanding and no toxicities were observed. Thus, CHL has been found to be a safe and effective agent suitable for use in individuals unavoidably exposed to aflatoxins.
Copyright 2003 Elsevier Science B.V.