Animal models in carotenoids research and lung cancer prevention

Jina Kim, Yuri Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Numerous epidemiological studies have consistently demonstrated that individuals who eat more fruits and vegetables (which are rich in carotenoids) and who have higher serum β-carotene levels have a lower risk of cancer, especially lung cancer. However, two human intervention trials conducted in Finland and in the United States have reported contrasting results with high doses of β-carotene supplementation increasing the risk of lung cancer among smokers. The failure of these trials to demonstrate actual efficacy has resulted in the initiation of animal studies to reproduce the findings of these two studies and to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the harmful or protective effects of carotenoids in lung carcinogenesis. Although these studies have been limited by a lack of animal models that appropriately represent human lung cancer induced by cigarette smoke, ferrets and A/J mice are currently the most widely used models for these types of studies. There are several proposed mechanisms for the protective effects of carotenoids on cigarette smoke-induced lung carcinogenesis, and these include antioxidant/ prooxidant effects, modulation of retinoic acid signaling pathway and metabolism, induction of cytochrome P450, and molecular signaling involved in cell proliferation and/or apoptosis. The technical challenges associated with animal models include strain-specific and diet-specific effects, differences in the absorption and distribution of carotenoids, and differences in the interactions of carotenoids with other antioxidants. Despite the problems associated with extrapolating from animal models to humans, the understanding and development of various animal models may provide useful information regarding the protective effects of carotenoids against lung carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
JournalTranslational Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


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