Progression of benign tumors to malignant cancer is critical since cancerous lesions are capable of metastatic spread and eventually causing death. Inhibitors of the conversion process, therefore, would likely be useful as cancer chemopreventive agents. In this study, we assessed the protective effect of topical application of a polyphenolic fraction isolated from green tea (GTP) against spontaneous as well as benzoyl peroxide (BPO)- and 4-nitroquinoline-N-oxide (4-NQO)-enhanced malignant conversion of chemically induced skin papillomas in SENCAR mice. Papillomas were induced in SENCAR mice by topical application of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene as a tumor-initiating agent followed by twice a week application of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate as a tumor-promoting agent. Beginning at the 20th week, when papilloma yield was stabilized, enhanced malignant conversion was achieved by twice weekly topical application of either BPO or 4-NQO, whereas spontaneous malignant conversion was associated with topical application of acetone. In these protocols, preapplication of GTP (6 mg/animal) 30 min prior to skin application of acetone, BPO, or 4-NQO resulted in 14, 31, and 29% protection, respectively, in terms of percentage of mice with carcinomas, and 20, 35, and 43% protection in terms of number of carcinomas/mouse. In these experiments, a BPO- and 4-NQO-enhanced rate of malignant conversion was also found to be decreased significantly by the skin application of GTP; however, such effects of GTP were less profound in the cases of spontaneous malignant conversion. The results of this study suggest that, in addition to its chemopreventive effects against tumor initiation and promotion stages of multistage carcinogenesis, green tea also possesses significant protective effects against tumor progression, specifically tumor progression induced by BPO and 4-NQO.

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This work is supported by American Institute for Cancer Research Grant 92B35 and in part by USPHS Grant P-30-AR-39750. R. A. is a recipient of the Upjohn Company Foundation Research Career Development Award through the Dermatology Foundation.

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