Complete protection against aflatoxin B(1)-induced liver cancer with a triterpenoid: DNA adduct dosimetry, molecular signature, and genotoxicity threshold. Academic Article uri icon


  • In experimental animals and humans, aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) 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-Im against AFB1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A lifetime cancer bioassay was undertaken in F344 rats dosed with AFB1 (200 g/kg rat/day) for four weeks and receiving either vehicle or CDDO-Im (three times weekly), one week 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-N(7)-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-Im as 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.

published proceedings

  • Cancer Prev Res (Phila)

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, N. M., Egner, P. A., Baxter, V. K., Sporn, M. B., Wible, R. S., Sutter, T. R., ... Roebuck, B. D.

citation count

  • 57

publication date

  • July 2014