Cancer chemopreventive potential of the Egyptian flaxseed oil in a rat colon carcinogenesis bioassay--implications for its mechanism of action

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011;12(9):2385-92.


The possible chemopreventive effects of natural Egyptian flaxseed oil on preneoplasia and cancer formation were investigated in a rat medium-term colon carcinogenesis bioassay. Male Wistar rats were divided into 6 groups. Groups 1, 3 and 5 were initiated by 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH) 20 mg/kg body weight s.c. 8 times, twice a week to initiate colon carcinogenesis. Groups 1 and 3 received 20% or 5% flaxseed oil respectively in diet in post initiation stage until the end. Groups 2 and 4 served as a flaxseed dose corresponding controls without carcinogen initiation, while rats in group 6 served as negative controls. Distribution and total numbers of aberrant crypt foci (ACF), putative preneoplastic lesions, particularly those with ≥4 aberrant crypts (ACs), and the numbers and sizes of colon tumors (adenoma and carcinoma) were significantly decreased by both treatment doses of flaxseeds as compared to group 5. Histochemical investigation revealed that the numbers of mucus-secreting cells in the colonic mucosa were reduced gradually during progression of colon carcinogenesis. Intriguingly, flaxseed oil caused the numbers and integrity of the mucus-secreting cells to retain close to normal levels and in a dose dependent manner. Moreover, the hematological parameters were almost constant between the groups particularly at the dose of 5% as compared to groups 5 and 6. PCNA-labeled indexes (PCNA-LI) in the DMH-initiated colonic mucosa were found to be decreased by both doses of flaxseeds administration. In conclusion, the present study showed that the post initiation dietary administration of flaxseeds oil suppressed DMH-induced colon carcinogenesis in rats without significant side effects. The mechanism is likely to be through its inhibitory effects on early cellular proliferation and modulation of mucin secretion properties in the initiated colonic mucosa.

MeSH terms

  • 1,2-Dimethylhydrazine / adverse effects
  • Aberrant Crypt Foci / drug therapy
  • Aberrant Crypt Foci / pathology
  • Aberrant Crypt Foci / prevention & control
  • Adenoma / drug therapy
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / prevention & control
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Linseed Oil / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tumor Burden / drug effects


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Linseed Oil
  • 1,2-Dimethylhydrazine