• esophageal cancer;
  • chemoprevention;
  • vitamin E;
  • selenium;
  • N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine


Previous human intervention trial demonstrated that vitamin E (Ve) and selenium (Se) supplementation decreased esophageal cancer deaths among younger participants, but may have no effect or produce an opposite effect among older ones. In our study, we intended to mimic this human nutritional trial to determine the chemopreventive effects of Ve/Se supplementation at the early or late stage of esophageal carcinogenesis in rats. Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) was induced in Fischer 344 rats with N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine (NMBzA, 0.35 mg/kg BW, s.c., three times per week for 5 weeks). The rats were maintained on a modified AIN-93M diet with low levels of Ve/Se or supplemented with high levels of Ve/Se at different stages. At Week 25, the number and volume of visible tumors, the numbers of dysplasia and ESCC were significantly lower in rats of supplementation during the early stage (Group C) or during the entire experimental period (Group E), but not during the late stage (Group D). Ve/Se supplementation at the early stage also significantly decreased cell proliferation, nuclear factor kappaB (NFκB) activation, protein and mRNA expression of cyclooxygenase 2 and 5-lipoxygenase and biosynthesis of prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4 during the carcinogenesis of rat esophagus. Our results demonstrated that the chemopreventive efficacy of Ve/Se supplementation on NMBzA-induced esophageal cancer is time selective and that supplementation during the early stage is clearly effective but probably ineffective during the late stage of carcinogenesis. NFκB signaling pathway activation and aberrant arachidonic acid metabolism might be the underlying mechanism.