Abstract

The human colon can be described as a complex microbial ecosystem, comprising several hundred bacterial species. Some of these enteric bacteria are beneficial to the host and have been shown to exert antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. We have investigated the colon tumor inhibitory activity of Bifidobacterium longum, a lactic acid-producing enterobacterium. The modifying effects of this lactic culture on colonic mucosal and/or tumor cell proliferation, ODC activity and ras-p21 oncoprotein expression in colon carcinogenesis were also analyzed. Male F344 rats were fed a modified AIN-76A diet containing 0 or 2% lyophilized cultures of B. longum and s.c. administered azoxymethane (AOM) dissolved in normal saline at a dose of 15 mg/kg body wt, once weekly for 2 weeks. Vehicle controls received an equal volume of normal saline s.c. Animals were maintained on control or experimental diets until termination of the study. Animals intended for analysis of cell proliferation were killed 20 weeks after the second AOM injection, whereas animals intended for colon tumor analysis and measurement of ODC activity and ras-p21 expression were killed 40 weeks after the last AOM injection. The data demonstrate that dietary administration of lyophilized cultures of B. longum resulted in significant suppression of colon tumor incidence and tumor multiplicity and also reduced tumor volume. Results also revealed that ingestion of B. longum significantly inhibited AOM-induced cell proliferation, ODC activity and expression of ras-p21 oncoprotein. Data suggest that oral administration of probiotic B. longum exerts strong antitumor activity, as indicated by modulation of the intermediate biomarkers of colon cancer, and consequently reduced tumor outcome.