Journal Article

Effects of resistant starch and nonstarch polysaccharides on colonic luminal environment and genotoxin-induced apoptosis in the rat

R.K. Le Leu, Y. Hu and G.P. Young

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 23, issue 5, pages 713-719
Published in print May 2002 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online May 2002 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Effects of resistant starch and nonstarch polysaccharides on colonic luminal environment and genotoxin-induced apoptosis in the rat

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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Fermentation of polysaccharides in the colon seems likely to regulate tumorigenesis but the mechanisms are unclear. A possible mechanism may be through facilitation of the acute apoptotic response to genotoxin-induced DNA damage. This study evaluated the effects of selected dietary polysaccharides, resistant starch (supplied as Hi-maize) and nonstarch polysaccharides (supplied as wheat bran and cellulose) on certain biological events relevant to protection against colon cancer (fecal bulk, pH, butyrate and apoptosis). Male Sprague–Dawley rats were fed the different experimental diets for a period of 4 weeks, after which a single azoxymethane injection was given to induce DNA damage; 6 h later the acute apoptotic response was measured. Other measures included short chain fatty acid (SCFA) levels, fecal bulk and pH. All wheat bran treatments significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced carcinogen-induced apoptosis in the distal colon, increased fecal bulk and butyrate levels and reduced fecal pH, when compared with rats fed NF or Cellulose diets. Total SCFA (P < 0.001, r = 0.496) and butyrate levels (P < 0.001, r = 0.353) in the feces correlated positively with the acute apoptotic response in distal colonic crypts. Resistant starch supplementation by this modest amount did not enhance carcinogen-induced apoptosis. While it did significantly increase bulk, SCFA and butyrate levels and lower pH, the magnitude of these effects was not as great as with wheat bran. These findings indicate that wheat bran is the most effective regulator of these biological events of relevance to protection against colon cancer. Assuming that the acute apoptotic response to genotoxic carcinogens acts to remove genetically damaged cells that might otherwise form mutated clones that progress to malignancy, we have identified an additional biological mechanism by which dietary polysaccharides provide protection.

Keywords: AI, apoptotic index; AOM, azoxymethane; LI, labelling index; NF, no fiber; NSP, non-starch polysaccharide; RS, resistant starch; SCFA, short chain fatty acid; WB, wheat bran.

Journal Article.  5842 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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