Kava blocks 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone-induced lung tumorigenesis in association with reducing O6-methylguanine DNA adduct in A/J mice

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Jan;7(1):86-96. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0301.


We previously reported the chemopreventive potential of kava against 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)- and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice during the initiation and postinitiation stages. In this study, we investigated the tumorigenesis-stage specificity of kava, the potential active compounds, and the underlying mechanisms in NNK-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice. In the first experiment, NNK-treated mice were given diets containing kava at a dose of 5 mg/g of diet during different periods. Kava treatments covering the initiation stage reduced the multiplicity of lung adenomas by approximately 99%. A minimum effective dose is yet to be defined because kava at two lower dosages (2.5 and 1.25 mg/g of diet) were equally effective as 5 mg/g of diet in completely inhibiting lung adenoma formation. Daily gavage of kava (one before, during, and after NNK treatment) completely blocked lung adenoma formation as well. Kavalactone-enriched fraction B fully recapitulated kava's chemopreventive efficacy, whereas kavalactone-free fractions A and C were much less effective. Mechanistically, kava and fraction B reduced NNK-induced DNA damage in lung tissues with a unique and preferential reduction in O(6)-methylguanine (O(6)-mG), the highly tumorigenic DNA damage by NNK, correlating and predictive of efficacy on blocking lung adenoma formation. Taken together, these results demonstrate the outstanding efficacy of kava in preventing NNK-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice with high selectivity for the initiation stage in association with the reduction of O(6)-mG adduct in DNA. They also establish the knowledge basis for the identification of the active compound(s) in kava.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / chemically induced
  • Adenoma / prevention & control*
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Benzo(a)pyrene / chemistry
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects
  • Carcinogens
  • DNA Adducts / chemistry*
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • Female
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Guanine / chemistry
  • Kava / chemistry*
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Nitrosamines / chemistry


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Carcinogens
  • DNA Adducts
  • Nitrosamines
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Guanine
  • 4-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone
  • O-(6)-methylguanine