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Effects of astaxanthin supplementation on chemically induced tumorigenesis in Wistar rats

Adrian F Gal1*, Sanda Andrei2, Cristina Cernea3, Marian Taulescu1 and Cornel Catoi1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathologic Anatomy, Necropsy and Veterinary Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Calea Mănăstur 3-5, Cluj-Napoca, 400372, Romania

2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Calea Mănăstur 3-5, Cluj-Napoca, 400372, Romania

3 Department of Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Calea Mănăstur 3-5, Cluj-Napoca, 400372, Romania

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2012, 54:50  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-54-50

Published: 30 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Astaxanthin (ASTA) is a fat-soluble xanthophyll with powerful antioxidant functions. It is extracted from e.g. salmon, an important food source for certain human populations known to have a reduced risk of tumor development. It is possible that ASTA plays a role in cancer chemoprevention in such populations. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of dietary ASTA on chemically induced mammary tumorigenesis using N-methyl-N-nitroso-urea (MNU) in immature Wistar rats.

Methods

Thirty-six 37 days old juvenile female Wistar rats were at random allocated to 4 groups of which Groups 1 and 2 received a single dose of 55 mg MNU/kg body weight. The effects of ASTA was evaluated by giving rats of Groups 2 and 4 a dose of 50 mg ASTA/kg/day for the entire duration of the study. Group 3 rats received feed added alimentary oil.

Necropsy and histopathological examinations were carried out on each rat 14 months after the administration of MNU. Haematological values and antioxidative status were determined. Oxidative stress was evaluated by monitoring superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activities in hepatic tissue. Lipid peroxidation and carbonylation of proteins was determined in protein extracts from the liver.

Results

Tumor development occurred only in rats of Groups 1 and 2, i.e. MNU exposed animals. Frequency of tumor development in general and average number of tumors per animal were insignificant between these two groups. Mammary gland tumors developed in equal frequencies in Group 1 and 2 rats, respectively. Although only rather few tumors were found in the mammary glands, a substantial number of other tumors were found in Group 1 and 2 rats, but at equal rates.

Biochemical analyses showed significant higher levels of GPx, malondialdehyde and dinitrophenylhydrazine in Group 1 rats that for rats in all other groups thus indicating protective effects of ASTA on MNU induced hepatic oxidative stress.

Conclusions

Supplementation with ASTA did not reduce tumorigenesis induced by MNU in Wistar rats. However, supplementation with ASTA seemed to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Keywords:
Carcinogenesis; Mammary tumor; Astaxanthin; N-methyl-N-nitroso-urea; Wistar rat