Inhibition of 4NQO-Induced Oral Carcinogenesis by Dietary Oyster Shell Calcium

Integr Cancer Ther. 2016 Mar;15(1):96-101. doi: 10.1177/1534735415596572. Epub 2015 Aug 20.


Oyster has gained much attention recently for its anticancer activity but it is unclear whether calcium, the major antitumor ingredient in oyster shell, is responsible for the anticarcinogenic role of the oyster. To address this issue, C57BL/6 mice were fed with the carcinogen 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4NQO, 50 µg/mL) and normal diet or a diet containing oyster powder, oyster calcium, or calcium depleted oyster powder. The tongue tissue specimens isolated from these mice were histologically evaluated for hyperplasia, dysplasia, and papillary lesions, and then analyzed for proliferation and differentiation markers by immunohistochemistry. The results showed that mice on the diet containing oyster calcium significantly reduced rates of tumors in the tongue and proliferation and enhanced differentiation in the oral epithelium compared with the diet containing calcium depleted oyster powder. These results suggest that calcium in oyster plays a critical role in suppressing formation of oral squamous cell carcinoma and proliferation and promoting differentiation of the oral epithelium.

Keywords: calcium; differentiation; oral carcinogenesis; oyster; proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide / adverse effects*
  • Animal Shells / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Calcium / pharmacology*
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mouth Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Mouth Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ostreidae / chemistry*
  • Tongue / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carcinogens
  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide
  • Calcium