The mechanism by which vitamin A prevents or delays chemical carcinogenesis remains unclear. In addition to these antimutagenic and antiproliferative activities, vitamin A seems able to induce programmed cell death. In this study, we assess the suggested role of vitamin A on the in vitro apoptosis induction in a rat colonic tumor cell line. Several concentrations of retinyl palmitate were added in the culture media. We observed cell proliferation by measuring the (3H)thymidine incorporation, cell differentiation by measuring the intestinal alkaline phosphatase expression, and apoptosis induction by DNA fragmentation and morphological evolution of adherent and floating cells. The results show that vitamin A decreases (3H)thymidine incorporation after 1 day of treatment, induces alkaline phosphatase expression, and increases the number of cells falling in apoptosis. This report confirms the role of vitamin A on the induction of cell differentiation, on the inhibition of cell proliferation and shows the vitamin A capacity to induce apoptosis. These results could be attractive to prevent development of colon cancer by vitamin A supplemented diets.
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