Our early studies demonstrated an impressive chemopreventive efficacy of dihydromethysticin (DHM), unique in kava, against tobacco carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice in which DHM was supplemented in the diet. The current work was carried out to validate the efficacy, optimize the dosing schedule, and further elucidate the mechanisms using oral bolus dosing of DHM. The results demonstrated a dose-dependent chemopreventive efficacy of DHM (orally administered 1 h before each of the two NNK intraperitoneal injections, 1 week apart) against NNK-induced lung adenoma formation. Temporally, DHM at 0.8 mg per dose (∼32 mg per kg body weight) exhibited 100% lung adenoma inhibition when given 3 and 8 h before each NNK injection and attained >93% inhibition when dosed at either 1 or 16 h before each NNK injection. The simultaneous treatment (0 h) or 40 h pretreatment (-40 h) decreased lung adenoma burden by 49.8% and 52.1%, respectively. However, post-NNK administration of DHM (1-8 h after each NNK injection) was ineffective against lung tumor formation. In short-term experiments for mechanistic exploration, DHM treatment reduced the formation of NNK-induced O6-methylguanine (O6-mG, a carcinogenic DNA adduct in A/J mice) in the target lung tissue and increased the urinary excretion of NNK detoxification metabolites as judged by the ratio of urinary NNAL-O-gluc to free NNAL, generally in synchrony with the tumor prevention efficacy outcomes in the dose scheduling time-course experiment. Overall, these results suggest DHM as a potential chemopreventive agent against lung tumorigenesis in smokers, with O6-mG and NNAL detoxification as possible surrogate biomarkers.
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