Inhibition of Benzo(a)pyrene-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice by dietary N-acetylcysteine conjugates of benzyl and phenethyl isothiocyanates during the postinitiation phase is associated with activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases and p53 activity and induction of apoptosis

Yang Ming Yang, C. Clifford Conaway, Wei Dai, Shantu Amin, Fung Lung Chung, Chung Xiou Wang, John Whysner, Joel Reinhardt, J. W. Chiao

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Recent studies in cell culture have shown that isothiocyanates (ITCs) induce apoptosis via activation of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases and p53 pathways, suggesting a potential for ITCs or their conjugates to inhibit tumorigenesis during the postinitiation phase. To evaluate whether ITC compounds administered after carcinogen treatment inhibit lung tumorigenesis, we investigated in A/J mice the effects of the N-acetylcysteine (NAC) conjugates of benzyl (BITC-NAC) and phenethyl ITC (PEITC-NAC) in the diet (15 μmol/g) administered after a single dose of 20 μmol benzo(a)pyrene [B(a)P]. The formation of lung adenomas was examined 140 days after B(a)P dosing. Both the BITC-NAC and PEITC-NAC-treated groups showed a significant reduction in lung tumor multiplicity from 6.1 ± 3.1 tumors/mouse in the B(a)P group fed the control diet to 3.7 ± 2.9 and 3.4 ± 2.7 tumors/mouse (P = 0.018 and 0.006, respectively). To investigate the mechanisms of tumor inhibition, lung tissues were obtained at 21, 84, and 140 days at interim sacrifices during the bioassay. These tissues showed a significant increase in apoptosis as determined by in situ end-labeling for both ITC-NAC-treated groups. The MAP kinase pathway was activated in the ITC-NAC-treated groups. The activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase was higher in the BITC-NAC and PEITC-NAC groups when compared with B(a)P-treated control. The phosphorylation of p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ErKs) 1 and 2 was also induced by these treatments. To determine the downstream target of MAP kinases, activator protein-1 (AP-1) and nuclear factor-KB activities were evaluated by gel shift assay. The AP-1 binding activity was remarkably increased in lung tissue from both the BITC-NAC and PEITC-NAC groups. No change in nuclear factor-KB binding activity was found, however. Phosphorylation of p53 was also higher than the constitutive levels in both ITC-NAC-treated groups, but no induction of p53 expression was detected. This study demonstrates the chemopreventive efficacy of the NAC conjugates of PEITC and BITC administered in the diet after a single dose of B(a)P for lung tumorigenesis and provides the first in vivo evidence that activation of MAP kinases, AP-1 transcription factors, p53 phosphorylation, and the induction of apoptosis may be involved in the chemopreventive activity of these compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-7
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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