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Effect of olive oil on early and late events of colon carcinogenesis in rats: modulation of arachidonic acid metabolism and local prostaglandin E2 synthesis


BACKGROUND Animal model studies have shown that the colon tumour promoting effect of dietary fat depends not only on the amount but on its fatty acid composition. With respect to this, the effect of n9 fatty acids, present in olive oil, on colon carcinogenesis has been scarcely investigated.

AIMS To assess the effect of an n9 fat diet on precancer events, carcinoma development, and changes in mucosal fatty acid composition and prostaglandin (PG)E2 formation in male Sprague-Dawley rats with azoxymethane induced colon cancer.

METHODS Rats were divided into three groups to receive isocaloric diets (5% of the energy as fat) rich in n9, n3, or n6 fat, and were administered azoxymethane subcutaneously once a week for 11 weeks at a dose rate of 7.4 mg/kg body weight. Vehicle treated groups received an equal volume of normal saline. Groups of animals were colectomised at weeks 12 and 19 after the first dose of azoxymethane or saline. Mucosal fatty acids were assessed at 12 and 19 weeks. Aberrant crypt foci and the in vivo intracolonic release of PGE2 were assessed at week 12, and tumour formation at week 19.

RESULTS Rats on the n6 diet were found to have colonic aberrant crypt foci and adenocarcinomas more often than those consuming either the n9 or n3 diet. There were no differences between the rats on the n9 and n3 diets. On the other hand, administration of both n9 and n3 diets was associated with a decrease in mucosal arachidonate concentrations as compared with the n6 diet. Carcinogen treatment induced an appreciable increase in PGE2 formation in rats fed the n6 diet, but not in those fed the n3 and n9 diets.

CONCLUSIONS Dietary olive oil prevented the development of aberrant crypt foci and colon carcinomas in rats, suggesting that olive oil may have chemopreventive activity against colon carcinogenesis. These effects may be partly due to modulation of arachidonic acid metabolism and local PGE2synthesis.

  • olive oil
  • fish oil
  • azoxymethane
  • carcinogenesis
  • fatty acids
  • prostaglandin E2

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  • Abbreviations used in this paper:
    eicosapentaenoic acid
    aberrant crypt foci
    prostaglandin E2 
    high performance liquid chromatography
    ARA:EPA ratio
    arachidonic acid to EPA ratio