Dietary lycopene and tomato extract supplementations inhibit nonalcoholic steatohepatitis-promoted hepatocarcinogenesis in rats

Int J Cancer. 2010 Apr 15;126(8):1788-1796. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24689.


Epidemiological and experimental studies provide supportive evidence that lycopene (LY), a major carotenoid from tomatoes and tomato products, may act as a chemopreventive agent against certain types of cancers. We recently showed that high-fat diet (HFD)-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) promoted diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-initiated hepatocarcinogenesis in a rat model. Using this model, we investigated the efficacy of an equivalent dosage of dietary LY from either a pure compound or a tomato extract (TE) against NASH-promoted hepatocarcinogenesis. Six groups of rats were injected with DEN and then fed either Lieber-DeCarli control diet or HFD with or without LY or TE for 6 weeks. Results showed that both LY and TE supplementations significantly decreased the number of altered hepatic foci expressing the placental form of glutathione S-transferase in the livers of HFD-fed rats. This was associated with significantly lower proliferating cell nuclear antigen positive hepatocytes and cyclinD1 protein, as well as decreased activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase and nuclear NF-kappaB. Although both LY and TE supplementations reduced HFD-induced lipid peroxidation in the livers, we observed significantly decreased cytochrome P450 2E1, inflammatory foci and mRNA expression of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-12) in the HFD+TE fed group but increased nuclear NF-E2-related factor-2 and heme oxygenase-1 proteins in the HFD+LY fed group, relative to HFD feeding alone. These data indicate that LY and TE can inhibit NASH-promoted hepatocarcinogenesis mainly as a result of reduced oxidative stress, which could be fulfilled through different mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Diethylnitrosamine / toxicity
  • Fatty Liver / complications
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / prevention & control*
  • Lycopene
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / chemistry
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Precancerous Conditions / drug therapy
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Carcinogens
  • Plant Extracts
  • Carotenoids
  • Diethylnitrosamine
  • Lycopene