Oncopreventive effects of theanine and theobromine on dimethylhydrazine-induced colon cancer model
Theanine and theobromine are abundantly present in tea and cocoa, respectively. This study was performed to assess the chemopreventive effects of these phytochemicals, alone or together, on dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced colon cancer. Thirty male Wistar rats were divided into five groups and subcutaneously injected with saline (negative control group) or 30 mg/kg DMH (the other groups) two times/week for 12 weeks. The negative and positive control animals were orally treated with drinking water, and the other groups were gavaged with theanine (400 mg/kg), theobromine (100 mg/kg), or their mixture for two weeks before and throughout the injection period. At the end of the study, the morphological and histopathological features, Ki-67 proliferation marker, and the expression of Akt/mTOR, JAK2/STAT3, MAPK/ERK, and TGF-β/Smad pathways were investigated. Theanine and theobromine, alone or together, reduced the number of cancerous and precancerous lesions, the volume of tumors, the Ki-67 immunostaining, and the expression of Akt/mTOR and JAK2/STAT3 oncogenic pathways. The simultaneous treatment was more effective in the down-regulation of Akt and mTOR compared to either theanine or theobromine alone. Theobromine administration also caused more inhibitory effects on the Ki-67 and Akt/mTOR expression than theanine. Besides, all dietary interventions increased the mRNA and protein expression of Smad2. In conclusion, theanine and theobromine, alone and in combination, inhibited tumorigenesis through down-regulation of the Akt/mTOR and JAK2/STAT3 pathways and an increment of the Smad2 tumor suppressor. The inhibition of the Akt/mTOR pathway was more pronounced by simultaneous treatment.