Complete protection against aflatoxin B1-induced liver cancer with a triterpenoid: DNA adduct dosimetry, molecular signature, and genotoxicity threshold

Natalie M. Johnson, Patricia A. Egner, Victoria K. Baxter, Michael B. Sporn, Ryan S. Wible, Thomas R. Sutter, John D. Groopman, Thomas W. Kensler, Bill D. Roebuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In experimental animals and humans, aflatoxin B1 (AFB 1) is a potent hepatic toxin and carcinogen. The synthetic oleanane triterpenoid 1-[2-cyano-3-,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oyl]imidazole (CDDO-Im), a powerful activator of Keap1-Nrf2 signaling, protects against AFB1-induced toxicity and preneoplastic lesion formation (GST-P-positive foci). This study assessed and mechanistically characterized the chemoprotective efficacy of CDDO-Imagainst AFB1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A lifetime cancer bioassay was undertaken in F344 rats dosed with AFB1 (200 μg/kg rat/day) for four weeks and receiving either vehicle or CDDO-Im(three times weekly), oneweek before and throughout the exposure period. Weekly, 24-hour urine samples were collected for analysis of AFB1 metabolites. In a subset of rats, livers were analyzed for GST-P foci. The comparative response of a toxicogenomic RNA expression signature for AFB1 was examined. CDDO-Im completely protected (0/20) against AFB1-induced liver cancer compared with a 96% incidence (22/23) observed in the AFB1 group. With CDDO-Im treatment, integrated level of urinary AFB1-N7-guanine was significantly reduced (66%) and aflatoxin-N-acetylcysteine, a detoxication product, was consistently elevated (300%) after the first AFB1 dose. In AFB1-treated rats, the hepatic burden of GST-P-positive foci increased substantially (0%-13.8%) over the four weeks, but was largely absent with CDDO-Im intervention. The toxicogenomic RNA expression signature characteristic of AFB1 was absent in the AFB1 + CDDO-Im-treated rats. The remarkable efficacy of CDDO-Imas an anticarcinogen is established even in the face of a significant aflatoxin adduct burden. Consequently, the absence of cancer requires a concept of a threshold for DNA damage for cancer development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-665
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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