Vanillin is a natural dietary flavoring widely used in the food industry. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the common malignancies in the world. Chronic intestinal inflammation is a risk factor for the development of CRC. We have previously found that vanillin improves and prevents colitis in mice. Here we evaluated the inhibitory activities of vanillin on a mouse model of colitis-induced CRC. Mice were challenged intraperitoneally with azoxymethane (AOM) and orally with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). Various dosages of vanillin were orally administered for 13 consecutive weeks. Vanillin alleviated the development of tumors in AOM/DSS-induced mice. The total number of tumors in 100 mg/kg vanillin group was significantly reduced by 57.14 ± 7.67%, compared with sham group. Gene expression analysis showed that vanillin downregulated the expression levels of proteasome genes in colon tissues. Moreover, vanillin at 10 mM significantly suppressed proteasome activities in HCT-116 cells by 41.27 ± 0.41%. Furthermore, vanillin diminished the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and reduced the number of p65-positive cells, proliferating cells, and granulocytes in colon tissues with statistical significance. In conclusion, our data suggested that vanillin was a bioactive compound that ameliorated the development of AOM/DSS-induced colon cancer in mice. Moreover, the amelioration of vanillin might be associated with the downregulation of proteasome, nuclear factor-κB, and MAPK pathways.
Keywords: colorectal cancer; mitogen-activated protein kinases; nuclear factor-κB; proteasome; vanillin.