To evaluate the induction of preneoplastic hepatic foci in relation to natural killer cell (NK) activity, we sequentially analyzed glutathione S-transferase placental form positive (GST-P+) hepatocytes and NK activity during diethylnitrosamine (DEN) and phenobarbital (PB)-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in Sprague-Dawley rats. Previous studies have shown that NK activity can modulate the carcinogenic process induced by chemical carcinogens. Newborn females were initially given a single intraperitoneal injection of 15 mg DEN/kg and three weeks later, they were treated with 500 ppm phenobarbital (PB). From week 3, PB was administered in drinking water for 9 weeks. Interim and terminal sacrifices were performed at weeks 12, 15 and 30. GST-P+ hepatocytes increased with age in DEN-treated rats, especially in the population of more than two GST-P+ hepatocytes. The NK activity of DEN-treated rats did not significantly differ from that of control rats until week 12, but it progressively decreased from week 15 to 30. These results indicate that changes of NK activity inversely correlated with the induction of preneoplastic hepatic foci. This strong correlation of decreased NK activity with enhanced induction of GST-P+ foci suggests that NK activity is important in the early progression of hepatocarcinogenesis in rats.
- Glutathione transferase
- Killer cell, natural