Background: The development of effective chemopreventive agents against cigarette smoke-induced lung cancer could be greatly facilitated by suitable laboratory animal models, such as animals treated with the tobacco-specific lung carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK). In the current study, we established a novel lung cancer model in Wistar rats treated with NNK. Using this model, we assessed the effects of two chemopreventive agents, aspirin and phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), on tumor progression.
Methods: First, rats were treated with a single-dose of NNK by intratracheal instillation; control rats received iodized oil. The animals were then sacrificed on the indicated day after drug administration and examined for tumors in the target organs. PCNA, p63 and COX-2 expression were analyzed in the preneoplastic lung lesions. Second, rats were treated with a single-dose of NNK (25 mg/kg body weight) in the absence or presence of aspirin and/or PEITC in the daily diet. The control group received only the vehicle in the regular diet. The animals were sacrificed on day 91 after bronchial instillation of NNK. Lungs were collected and processed for histopathological and immunohistochemical assays.
Results: NNK induced preneoplastic lesions in lungs, including 33.3% alveolar hyperplasia and 55.6% alveolar atypical dysplasia. COX-2 expression increased similarly in alveolar hyperplasia and alveolar atypical dysplasia, while PCNA expression increased more significantly in the latter than the former. No p63 expression was detected in the preneoplastic lesions. In the second study, the incidences of alveolar atypical dysplasia were reduced to 10%, 10% and 0%, respectively, in the aspirin, PEITC and aspirin and PEITC groups, compared with 62.5% in the carcinogen-treated control group. COX-2 expression decreased after dietary aspirin or aspirin and PEITC treatment. PCNA expression was significantly reduced in the aspirin and PEITC group.
Conclusion: (1) A single dose of 25 mg/kg body weight NNK by intratracheal instillation is sufficient to induce preneoplastic lesions in Wistar rat lungs. (2) COX-2 takes part in NNK-induced tumorigenesis but is not involved in proliferation. (3) Aspirin and PEITC have protective effects in the early stages of tumor progression initiated by NNK.