Glutathione inhibits experimental oral carcinogenesis, p53 expression, and angiogenesis

Nutr Cancer. 1996;26(2):229-36. doi: 10.1080/01635589609514479.


Previous studies have shown that reduced glutathione (GSH) inhibits experimental oral carcinogenesis in the hamster buccal pouch model. To gain further understanding of molecular mechanisms in the anticancer effect of GSH, these studies examined levels of p53 protein expression. 7,12-Dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) was applied to the buccal pouches of 20 Syrian Golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) in a 0.5% solution in mineral oil thrice weekly for 14 weeks. In 10 animals, 10 mg/kg reduced glutathione (GSH) in 0.5 ml of mineral oil was administered by mouth thrice weekly on days alternate to the DMBA painting. An additional 20 animals served as DMBA-untreated and GSH controls. At the termination of the experimental period, there were fewer tumors in the DMBA-GSH than in the DMBA tumor control group, and the tumors were smaller (tumor burden 315 vs. 3,040 mm3). Histologically, the DMBA-GSH group showed a marked reduction in dysplasia, carcinoma in situ, and invasive epidermoid carcinoma sites. Immunohistochemically, by use of monoclonal antibodies for wild-type p53 (PAb 246), changes were observed in protein expression levels at dysplastic sites and within the malignant tumors. Staining for p53 protein was slightly increased in dysplasia and squamous cell carcinoma in the tumor control animals (painted with DMBA) compared with the untreated controls that were free of tumors. In the GSH and DMBA treatment group, p53 protein expression levels were strongly increased in dysplastic and tumor sites. The significant inhibition of oral carcinogenesis associated with the administration of GSH was correlated with the increased levels of the wild-type p53 tumor suppressor gene, suggesting its possible use as a biomarker for GSH chemoprevention. The inhibition of oral carcinogenesis by reduced GSH was also related to a very significant inhibition of tumor angiogenesis, defined by factor VIII staining. Thus angiogenesis inhibition may be an additional mechanism for antioxidant chemoprevention, and this suggests another possible biomarker for antioxidant chemoprevention.

MeSH terms

  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Cricetinae
  • Factor VIII / analysis
  • Glutathione / therapeutic use*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus
  • Mouth Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis*


  • Antioxidants
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • Factor VIII
  • Glutathione