The effects of dietary administration of ethoxyquin (EQ) on aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) metabolism, DNA adduct formation and removal, and hepatic tumorigenesis were examined in male Fischer rats. Rats were fed a semipurified diet containing 0.4% EQ for 1 wk, gavaged with 250 µg of AFB1 per kg 5 times a wk during the next 2 wk, and, finally, restored to the control diet 1 wk after cessation of dosing. At 4 mo, focal areas of hepatocellular alteration were identified and quantitated by staining sections of liver for γ-glutamyl transpeptidase. Treatment with EQ reduced by >95% both area and volume of liver occupied by γ-glutamyl transpeptidase-positive foci. Utilizing the same multiple dosing protocol, patterns of covalent modifications of DNA by AFB1 were determined. EQ produced a dramatic reduction in the binding of AFB1 to hepatic DNA: 18-fold initially and 3-fold at the end of the dosing period. Although binding was detectable at 3 and 4 mo postdosing, no effect of EQ was observed, suggesting that these persistent adducts are not of primary relevance to AFB1 carcinogenesis. Analysis of nucleic acid bases by high-performance liquid chromatography revealed no qualitative differences in adduct species between treatment groups. The inhibitory effect of EQ on AFB1 binding to DNA and tumorigenesis appears related to induction of detoxication enzymes. Rats fed 0.4% EQ for 7 days showed a 5-fold increase in hepatic cytosolic glutathione S-transferase (GST)-specific activities. Multiple molecular forms of GST were induced, and concomitant elevations in messenger RNA levels coding for the synthesis of GST subunits were observed. Correspondingly, biliary elimination of AFB1-glutathione conjugate was increased 4.5-fold in animals on the EQ diet during the first 2 h following p.o. administration of 250 µg of AFB1 per kg. Thus, induction by EQ of enzymes important to AFB1 detoxication, such as GST, can lead to enhanced carcinogen elimination, as well as reductions of AFB1-DNA adduct formation and subsequent expression of preneoplastic lesions, and, ultimately, neoplasia.


Supported by grants from the American Cancer Society (SIG-3 and BC-477) and USPHS (CA-39416).

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