Male rats were placed on a diet containing 0.05% (w/w) of the hepatic carcinogen 2-acetylaminofluorene (AAF). They ceased to gain weight. However, when the carcinogenic diet was supplemented with butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (0.5% w/w), an antioxidant, the animals gained weight at approximately one-half the normal rate. This observation led to a series of experiments aimed at elucidating the mechanism(s) by which BHT reduced the toxicity of AAF. These initial studies were directed towards the effect of BHT on the extent and duration of the covalent binding of AAF with DNA. BHT feeding was shown to reduce the binding of carcinogen to hepatic DNA. Studies employing cells in culture demonstrated that BHT does not influence either excision repair or post-replication repair of DNA. These data indicate that a potential mechanism of action of BHT is at the anti-initiation level of carcinogen-induced DNA damage.
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