Objective: Dietary conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) have had many health benefits claimed for them, including antineoplastic actions.
Materials and methods: The effects of the predominant forms of CLA, namely the c9t11 and t10c12 isomers, or a mixture of these on polyp development, were investigated in the Apc(Min/+) mouse. CLAs have also been linked to altered rates of cell renewal and cell proliferation so this was also studied, as was a further means of increasing tissue mass, namely crypt fission.
Results: The stomach and small intestine were significantly heavier in the t10c12, and in the mixture-treated groups (P < 0.001). Crypt fission was increased in the middle small intestine by the t10c12 diet while colonic weight was reduced by c9t11 provision and crypts were 20% shorter. The t10c12 and the mixture significantly reduced polyp number in the proximal small intestine but they increased polyp diameter in the middle and distal small intestine, to an extent that the polyp burden was significantly increased at these sites. All CLAs significantly reduced polyp number in the colon, but the mixture significantly increased polyp diameter in the colon.
Conclusion: Increased polyp diameter associated with t10c12 diet and especially with the mixture is a cause of concern, as this is the commercially available form. The naturally occurring isomer, c9t11 decreased colonic polyp number and did not increase diameter, suggesting that this natural isomer is the most likely to be protective.