Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the fourth cancer with the most new cases reported in 2018 worldwide. Consumption of fruit and vegetables is a protective factor against the risk of CRC. Beyond this, flavonoids could orchestrate these healthy effects. Apart from containing the typical apple flavonoids, red-fleshed apples also contain anthocyanins, mainly cyanidin-3-O-galactoside (Cy3Gal). Through an azoxymethane rat carcinogenesis model, a study was carried out in order to assess the possible protective effects of apple polyphenols, with special attention to anthocyanins. In addition, apart from negative and positive controls, a group with chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil (5FU) was included to compare their performance against the output collected from the animal treatments with white-fleshed apple (WF), red-fleshed apple (RF) and Cy3Gal (AE). Although the 5FU group presented the best performance towards aberrant crypt foci (ACF) inhibition (70.1%), rats fed with white-fleshed apples (‘Golden Smoothee’) were able to achieve 41.3% ACF inhibition, while none of the challenged treatments (WF, RF and AE) suffered mucin depletion in their colonocytes. Expression changes of 17 genes related to CRC were assessed. In detail, the ACF inhibition phenotype detected in 5FU and WF groups could be explained through the expression changes detected in the apoptosis-related genes of Aurka, p53 and Cox2. Moreover, in the apple consumption groups (WF and RF), a reduced protein expression of matrix metalloproteinases with gelatinase activity (MMP-2 and 9) was detected. Overall, our study suggests an effect of apple polyphenols and apple anthocyanin Cy3Gal against colon carcinogenesis, retarding/diminishing the appearance of the precancerous markers studied.
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