Background: We previously reported that lifetime consumption of soy proteins or whey proteins reduced the incidence of azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon tumors in rats. To obtain insights into these effects, global gene expression profiles of colons from rats with lifetime ingestion of casein (CAS, control diet), soy protein isolate (SPI), and whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) diets were determined.
Results: Male Sprague Dawley rats, fed one of the three purified diets, were studied at 40 weeks after AOM injection and when tumors had developed in some animals of each group. Total RNA, purified from non-tumor tissue within the proximal half of each colon, was used to prepare biotinylated probes, which were hybridized to Affymetrix RG_U34A rat microarrays containing probes sets for 8799 rat genes. Microarray data were analyzed using DMT (Affymetrix), SAM (Stanford) and pair-wise comparisons. Differentially expressed genes (SPI and/or WPH vs. CAS) were found. We identified 31 induced and 49 repressed genes in the proximal colons of the SPI-fed group and 44 induced and 119 repressed genes in the proximal colons of the WPH-fed group, relative to CAS. Hierarchical clustering identified the co-induction or co-repression of multiple genes by SPI and WPH. The differential expression of I-FABP (2.92-, 3.97-fold down-regulated in SPI and WPH fed rats; P = 0.023, P = 0.01, respectively), cyclin D1 (1.61-, 2.42-fold down-regulated in SPI and WPH fed rats; P = 0.033, P = 0.001, respectively), and the c-neu proto-oncogene (2.46-, 4.10-fold down-regulated in SPI and WPH fed rats; P < 0.001, P < 0.001, respectively) mRNAs were confirmed by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. SPI and WPH affected colonic neuro-endocrine gene expression: peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon mRNAs were down-regulated in WPH fed rats, whereas somatostatin mRNA and corresponding circulating protein levels, were enhanced by SPI and WPH.
Conclusions: The identification of transcripts co- or differentially-regulated by SPI and WPH diets suggests common as well as unique anti-tumorigenesis mechanisms of action which may involve growth factor, neuroendocrine and immune system genes. SPI and WPH induction of somatostatin, a known anti-proliferative agent for colon cancer cells, would inhibit tumorigenesis.