Open Access Research article

Uncovering molecular events associated with the chemosuppressive effects of flaxseed: a microarray analysis of the laying hen model of ovarian cancer

Karen H Hales1*, Sheree C Speckman2, Nawneet K Kurrey23 and Dale B Hales12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, School of Medicine, Life Science III, (M/C 6512), 1135 Dr., Carbondale, Lincoln, IL 62901, USA

2 Department of Physiology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, School of Medicine, Life Science III, (M/C 6512), 1135 Dr., Carbondale, Lincoln, IL 62901, USA

3 Current address CSIR Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, KA 570020, India

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:709  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-709

Published: 24 August 2014

Abstract

Background

The laying hen model of spontaneous epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is unique in that it is the only model that enables observations of early events in disease progression and is therefore also uniquely suited for chemoprevention trials. Previous studies on the effect of dietary flaxseed in laying hens have revealed the potential for both amelioration and prevention of ovarian cancer. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of flaxseed on genes and pathways that are dysregulated in tumors. We have used a bioinformatics approach to identify these genes, followed by qPCR validation, immunohistochemical localization, and in situ hybridization to visualize expression in normal ovaries and tumors from animals fed a control diet or a diet containing 10% flaxseed.

Results

Bioinformatic analysis of ovarian tumors in hens led to the identification of a group of highly up-regulated genes that are involved in the embryonic process of branching morphogenesis. Expression of these genes coincides with expression of E-cadherin in the tumor epithelium. Levels of expression of these genes in tumors from flax-fed animals are reduced 40-60%. E-cadherin and miR200 are both up-regulated in tumors from control-fed hens, whereas their expression is decreased 60-75% in tumors from flax-fed hens. This does not appear to be due to an increase in ZEB1 as mRNA levels are increased five-fold in tumors, with no significant difference between control-fed and flax-fed hens.

Conclusions

We suggest that nutritional intervention with flaxseed targets the pathways regulating branching morphogenesis and thereby alters the progression of ovarian cancer.

Keywords:
Ovarian cancer; Laying hen; Flaxseed; Branching morphogenesis