Monascus-fermented products offer valuable therapeutic benefits and have been extensively used for centuries in East Asia. Dioscorea has been proved to have anti-cancer effect. The aim of this study is to investigate the anti-tumor ability of the ethanol extract of red mold dioscorea (RMDE) on 7,12-dimethyl-1,2-benz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced hamster buccal pouch carcinogenesis. We induced oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in the buccal pouch of male Syrian golden hamsters by painting with 0.5% DMBA three times a week for 14weeks. From 9 to 14weeks, a dose of 50, 100, and 200mg RMDE per kg body weight were painting with the hamsters for 6weeks on days alternate to the DMBA application. The results demonstrated that RMDE decreased nitric oxide (NO), reactive oxygen species (ROS), and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) overexpression in hamster buccal pouches in the DMBA treatment group and increased p53, serum tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) to significantly stimulate caspase-8 and -3 activities, indicating that RMDE reduced oxidative damage causing by DMBA and induced apoptosis in oral cancer cells. Therefore, RMDE may have therapeutic potentials against OSCC.
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