, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 287-296

Effect of Melatonin and Linolenic Acid on Mammary Cancer in Transgenic Mice with c-neu Breast Cancer Oncogene

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Abstract

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers and is a leading cause of mortality in women. The TG.NK transgenic mouse line expresses the c-neu breast cancer oncogene under the control of a MMTV promoter and appears to be a useful animal model for evaluation of intervention strategies to delay/prevent breast cancer. Fiber-rich nonpurified diet (NTP-2000) and some retinoid analogues have been shown to significantly delay the development of mammary cancer in the TG.NK model. Four-week-old hemizygous TG.NK female mice with MMTV/c-neu oncogene fed NTP-2000 diet were gavaged with 0.05–0.2 ml of flaxseed oil as the source of ω-3 rich PUFA, or melatonin at 50–200 mg/kg or a combination of 0.10 ml flaxseed oil and 50 mg/kg melatonin in a gavage volume of 0.2 ml per mouse with corn oil as the vehicle for 30 weeks. The time course of the mammary tumor incidence pattern was advanced by flaxseed oil compared to the control. At the high dose (0.2 ml) of flaxseed oil, when the ω-6: ω-3 PUFA ratio was closer to 1, there was some delay in the growth of mammary tumors. Melatonin delayed the appearance of palpable tumors and the growth of the tumors with a dose-related statistically significant negative trend for the incidence of tumors. The combination of flaxseed oil and melatonin caused a significant decrease in the number of tumors and tumor weight per mouse compared to the control and to flaxseed oil but not to melatonin alone. Flaxseed oil may delay the growth of mammary tumors if the ω-6:ω-3 PUFA ratio of fat consumed is closer to 1. Melatonin has the potential to markedly delay the appearance of palpable mammary tumors. Studies are in progress with the TG.NK mouse model to understand the histological and molecular changes associated with the dose-response pattern of mammary tumor incidence and growth after treatment with a broad range of doses of melatonin.