Background: Nutritional factors are associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer progression, yet mechanisms remain unclear. We examined the effects of lycopene and fish oil supplements versus placebo on the normal prostate microenvironment, among men pursuing active surveillance for low-burden prostate cancer. We hypothesized that lycopene or fish oil supplements would down-regulate insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) gene expression, respectively, reflecting putative proliferation (IGF-1) and inflammatory (COX-2) pathways relevant to carcinogenesis.
Methods: We conducted a 3-month randomized, double-blinded, clinical trial comparing prostate tissue gene expression profiles (assessed by qRT-PCR) among men with favorable-risk prostate cancer receiving either 30 mg/day lycopene, 3 g/day fish oil (including 1,098 mg eicosapentaenoic and 549 mg docosahexaenoic fatty acids) or placebo.
Results: Among 69 men (22 assigned to lycopene, 21 to fish, and 26 to placebo), there was no difference in the change from baseline to the 3 months in IGF-1 expression level between the placebo and lycopene arms (p = 0.93) nor in COX-2 expression between the placebo and fish arms (p = 0.99).
Conclusion: Compared to placebo, 3-month intervention with lycopene or fish oil did not significantly change IGF-1 and COX-2 gene expression in the normal prostate microenvironment in men with low-burden prostate cancer. Further analysis of global gene expression profiles may shed light on the bioactivity and relevance of these nutrients in prostate cancer.