Flaxseed Consumption Inhibits Chemically Induced Lung Tumorigenesis and Modulates Expression of Phase II Enzymes and Inflammatory Cytokines in A/J Mice

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2018 Jan;11(1):27-37. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0119. Epub 2017 Oct 26.


Flaxseed consumption is associated with reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in lung injury models and has shown anticancer effects for breast and prostate tissues. However, the chemopreventive potential of flaxseed remains unexplored for lung cancer. In this study, we investigated the effect of flaxseed on tobacco smoke carcinogen (NNK)-induced lung tumorigenesis in an A/J mouse model. Mice exposed to NNK were fed a control diet or a 10% flaxseed-supplemented diet for 26 weeks. Flaxseed-fed mice showed reduced lung tumor incidence (78%) and multiplicity, with an average of 2.7 ± 2.3 surface lung tumor nodules and 1.0 ± 0.9 H&E cross-section nodules per lung compared with the control group, which had 100% tumor incidence and an average of 10.2 ± 5.7 surface lung tumor nodules and 3.9 ± 2.6 H&E cross-section nodules per lung. Furthermore, flaxseed-fed mice had a lower incidence of adenocarcinomas compared with control-fed mice. Western blotting performed on normal lung tissues showed flaxseed suppressed phosphorylation (activation) of p-AKT, p-ERK, and p-JNK kinases. RNA-Seq data obtained from normal lung and lung tumors of control and flaxseed-fed mice suggested that flaxseed intake resulted in differential expression of genes involved in inflammation-mediated cytokine signaling (IL1, 6, 8, 9, and 12α), xenobiotic metabolism (several CYPs, GSTs, and UGTs), and signaling pathways (AKT and MAPK) involved in tumor cell proliferation. Together, our results indicate that dietary flaxseed supplementation may be an effective chemoprevention strategy for chemically induced lung carcinogenesis by altering signaling pathways, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Cancer Prev Res; 11(1); 27-37. ©2017 AACR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Benzo(a)pyrene / toxicity
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects*
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / metabolism
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Flax / chemistry*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Detoxication, Phase II
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred A
  • Nitrosamines / toxicity
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Seeds / chemistry


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Carcinogens
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Nitrosamines
  • Plant Extracts
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • 4-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • UGT1A1 enzyme
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • Glutathione Transferase