Inhibition of tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(N-nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) tumorigenesis with aromatic isothiocyanates.

M. A. Morse, K. I. Eklind, S. S. Hecht, F. L. Chung

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15 Scopus citations


4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) is a potent tobacco-specific carcinogenic nitrosamine. At low doses, it induces primarily lung tumours in mice, hamsters and rats, regardless of the route of administration. Its unique organ specificity and potency suggest its possible role in the high incidence of lung cancer in smokers. The goal of this study was to find agents that would potentially prevent NNK tumorigenesis. Previous results led us to test phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) on NNK tumorigenesis in a two-year bioassay in Fischer 344 rats. The NNK-treated group developed 80% lung tumour incidence, whereas NNK-treated rats fed PEITC diets had only 40% lung tumour incidence. Incidences in other organs were not affected by this treatment. We also tested PEITC in a 16-week, short-term bioassay against NNK-induced lung adenomas in A/J mice. Pretreatment of mice with PEITC by gavage at four daily doses of 5 mumol or 25 mumol reduced the formation of NNK-induced lung adenomas by 70% or 100%, respectively. Interestingly, benzyl isothiocyanate and phenyl isothiocyanate, the lower homologues of PEITC, were inactive in this bioassay. Using a protocol similar to that used in the bioassays, PEITC was shown to decrease DNA methylation by NNK in the lungs of rats and mice and suppress the metabolism of NNK by mouse lung microsomes. These results are consistent with the previous data, suggesting that the inhibition of NNK-induced lung tumour formation by PEITC is a consequence of reduced DNA methylation caused by inhibition of NNK metabolism.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-534
Number of pages6
JournalIARC scientific publications
Issue number105
StatePublished - 1991


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