F344 rats fed diets containing phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC, 3 µmol/g diet), a cruciferous vegetable component, before and during treatment with the tobacco-specific carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), developed about 50% fewer lung tumors than NNK-treated rats fed control diets. NNK-induced liver and nasal cavity tumors in rats were, however, not affected by this dietary treatment. The effects of PEITC diets on the formation of DNA adducts by NNK were also investigated in these target tissues. DNA methylation and pyridyloxobutylation by NNK were both decreased by 50% in lung of rats fed PEITC diets compared to that of rats fed control diets, but the levels of DNA methylation were not affected in liver and nasal mucosa. These results correlated with those from the carcinogenicity bioassay, suggesting that DNA alkylations could be used as indicators for screening inhibitors of NNK tumorigenesis. A slight increase in the number of tumors of the exocrine pancreas was observed in PEITC-fed rats with or without NNK treatments. However, these incidences were not statistically significant when compared to the control groups. The potential toxicity of PEITC at concentrations ranging from 0.75 µmol to 6 µmol/g diet was evaluated in a 13-week study. The only toxicity caused by this treatment was minimal fatty metamorphosis in the liver. Considering the widespread human exposure to NNK through tobacco use, it is of practical importance to demonstrate inhibition of lung tumors induced by this carcinogen. These results provide a basis for studies designed to discover agents of better efficacy for the prevention of NNK-induced tumorigenesis.


This is paper 4 in the series “Dietary Inhibition of Chemical Carcinogenesis.” This study was supported by National Cancer Institute Grants CA-32272 and CA-46535 and American Institute for Cancer Research Grant 84B05.

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