Mice exposed to the hepatocellular carcinogen diethylnitrosamine at 2 weeks of age have a high risk of developing primary liver tumors later in life. Previous studies have demonstrated that diethylnitrosamine-treated mice have increased tumor burden when fed an obesigenic "Western" diet rich in lard fat and sugar. However, the role of dietary fats vs. sugars in the promotion of liver cancer is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to determine how altering dietary fats vs. sugars affects tumor burden in the diethylnitrosamine model.
C57BL/6N mice were treated with diethylnitrosamine at 2 weeks of age and, from 6 to 32 weeks of age, fed one of five diets that differed in fat and sugar content, including normal chow, ketogenic, and Western diets.
Mice fed sugar-rich diets had the greatest tumor burden irrespective of dietary fat content. In contrast, mice fed a high-fat low-sugar diet had the least tumor burden despite obesity and glucose intolerance. When evaluated as independent variables, tumor burden was positively correlated with hepatic fat accumulation, postprandial insulin, and liver IL-6, and inversely correlated with serum adiponectin. In contrast, tumor burden did not correlate with adiposity, fasting insulin, or glucose intolerance. Furthermore, mice fed high sugar diets had lower liver expression of p21 and cleaved caspase-3 compared to mice fed low sugar diets.
These data indicate that dietary sugar intake contributes to liver tumor burden independent of excess adiposity or insulin resistance in mice treated with diethylnitrosamine.