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Apoptotic avoidance is one of the foremost characteristic features of tumour cells. Apoptotic induction in cancer cells could thus help to identify new anticancer agents from the natural products. The present study has taken an effort to investigate the apoptotic efficacy of myrtenal, a monoterpene, in 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA) induced oral carcinoma in male golden Syrian hamsters. The present study used the potent carcinogen, 7,12- dimethylbenz(a)anthracene, to develop oral tumours in the buccal pouches of the golden Syrian hamsters. Topical application of the above said carcinogen on the buccal mucosa (3 times a week for 14 weeks) resulted in well differentiated oral squamous cell carcinoma. The apoptotic potential of myrtenal was investigated using a spectrum of apoptotic markers, including pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic markers. Oral tumours developed in the buccal mucosa of hamsters showed higher expression of mutant p53 protein, Bcl-2 and lowered expression of Bax, Bad, Bid, caspase 3 and caspase 9. Myrtenal treatment at a dose of 230mg/kg bw orally to the hamsters treated with DMBA modulated the above said apoptotic markers towards tumour suppression or inhibition. The present findings thus suggests that the tumour preventive effect of myrtenal could partly be ascribed to its apoptotic induction potential during DMBA induced oral carcinogenesis.
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