BACKGROUND: The nicotine-derived nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) is one of the most potent lung carcinogens in rodents. Several epidemiologic studies indicated that the development of lung cancer in smokers is influenced by the type and amount of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids. A high corn oil diet has been shown to increase lung tumor volume and to decrease tumor latency in rats treated with NNK.

METHOD: In this study, we investigated the effects of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids in the form of corn oil or fish oil on lung proteomes in F344 rats treated with or without NNK. The fish oil diet contained 17% fish oil and 3% corn oil, and the corn oil diet contained 20% corn oil. Rats were sacrificed after 3 months, and lungs were excised. Whole lung tissue proteins were separated by two-dimensional liquid chromatography, and differentially expressed proteins were identified by trypsin digestion and tandem mass spectrometry.

RESULTS: Apolipoprotein A-I and Clara cell 17-kDa protein were overexpressed in the lungs of rats fed corn oil diet, compared with fish oil diet. NNK further enhanced their expression in rats fed corn oil diet; this effect was not observed in animals fed fish oil diet.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the elevated levels of apolipoprotein A-I and Clara cell 17-kDa protein may be involved in the development of NNK-induced lung cancer in rats fed a high corn oil diet. Therefore, we propose that both proteins may serve as potential biomarkers in future molecular epidemiologic and clinical chemoprevention intervention studies.