BACKGROUND: Adlay (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf) is a cereal crop used in traditional Chinese medicine and as a nutritious food. Epidemiologists have suspected that the low cancer rates in southeastern China might be related to adlay. Previous studies have shown that adlay has anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory activity. This study investigated the effect of adlay bran and its fractions on chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats. RESULTS: Adlay bran and its ethanolic extract and residue significantly reduced the number of preneoplastic aberrant crypt foci (ACF) and modified their mucin composition. The inhibitory effect of adlay bran ethanolic extract on ACF showed a dose dependence. Adlay bran and its ethanolic extract suppressed small ACF (one, two or three crypts) and ACF in the distal colon, while the residue suppressed large ACF (four or more crypts). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest the possibility that adlay bran and its ethanolic extract and residue inhibit colonic preneoplastic lesions in an early stage. Adlay and its fractions may have the potential to be developed as chemopreventive cereal products.
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