Purpose: Epidemiologic studies have linked the consumption of fruits and vegetables to reduced risk of several types of cancer. Laboratory animal model studies have provided evidence that stilbenes, phenolic compounds present in grapes and blueberries, play a role in inhibiting the risk of certain cancers. Pterostilbene, a naturally occurring stilbene from blueberries, was tested for its preventive activity against colon carcinogenesis.
Experimental design: Experiments were designed to study the inhibitory effect of pterostilbene against the formation of azoxymethane-induced colonic aberrant crypt foci (ACF) preneoplastic lesions in male F344 rats. Beginning at 7 weeks of age, rats were treated with azoxymethane (15 mg/kg body weight s.c., once weekly for 2 weeks). One day after the second azoxymethane treatment, rats were fed experimental diets containing 0 or 40 ppm of pterostilbene. At 8 weeks after the second azoxymethane treatment, all rats were sacrificed, and colons were evaluated for ACF formation and for inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Effects on mucin MUC2 were also determined.
Results: Administration of pterostilbene for 8 weeks significantly suppressed azoxymethane-induced formation of ACF (57% inhibition, P < 0.001) and multiple clusters of aberrant crypts (29% inhibition, P < 0.01). Importantly, dietary pterostilbene also suppressed azoxymethane-induced colonic cell proliferation and iNOS expression. Inhibition of iNOS expression by pterostilbene was confirmed in cultured human colon cancer cells.
Conclusions: The results of the present study suggest that pterostilbene, a compound present in blueberries, is of great interest for the prevention of colon cancer.