Monoterpenes, including limonene and its in vivo rat plasma metabolites, have been shown to be inhibitors of protein isoprenylation of small G proteins, including p21 ras. In addition, dietary limonene has been shown to be capable of preventing the development and causing the regression of chemically induced mammary carcinomas, many of which contain activated ras oncogenes. On the basis of these observations, it was hypothesized that a possible mechanism by which limonene exerts its effects on the chemoprevention and regression of mammary tumors involves the inhibition of protein isoprenylation of the small G protein p21. In the first study, we asked whether dietary limonene was able to prevent the development of mammary carcinomas which were induced using direct retroviral gene transfer of v-Ha-ras into the mammary parenchyma in situ. Limonene modified neither the rate of gene transfer nor the stability of gene expression. However, limonene did greatly inhibit the formation of mammary carcinomas induced by the insertion of activated ras. In a follow-up study, we asked whether chemoprevention by limonene was preferentially effective against a subset of chemically induced mammary carcinomas with activated ras. Rats were fed limonene to prevent the development of N-nitroso-N-methylurea-induced mammary tumors, a majority of which contain the activated Ha-ras oncogene. As expected, limonene administration increased the latency period and lowered the frequency of mammary carcinoma development as compared to controls. However, tumor characterization revealed that limonene treatment did not alter the percentage of carcinomas with activated ras. These studies are consistent with the above studies in that limonene is effective in preventing mammary carcinomas with activated ras. Interestingly, carcinomas without activated ras were prevented to the same extent as those with the activated oncogene.
Gould MN, Moore CJ, Zhang R, Wang B, Kennan WS, Haag JD. Limonene chemoprevention of mammary carcinoma induction following direct in situ transfer of v-Ha-ras. Cancer Res. 1994 July Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin-Madison