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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 820415, 13 pages
Research Article

Dietary Crocin Inhibits Colitis and Colitis-Associated Colorectal Carcinogenesis in Male ICR Mice

1Division of Palliative Care and Department of Internal Medicine, Tokai Central Hospital, 4-6-2 Sohara-Higashijima-cho, Kakamigahara 504-8601, Japan
2Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagasaki International University, 2825-7 Huis Ten Bosch-cho, Sasebo 859-3298, Japan
3Department of Pathology, Murakami Memorial Hospital, Asahi University, 3-23 Hashimoto-cho, Gifu 500-8523, Japan
4Department of Pharmacy, Ogaki Municipal Hospital, 4-86 Minaminokawa-cho, Ogaki 503-8502, Japan
5Division of Cytopathology, The Tokai Cytopathology Institute: Cancer Research and Prevention (TCI-CaRP), 5-1-2 Minami-Uzura, Gifu 500-8285, Japan
6Department of Tumor Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1194, Japan

Received 5 November 2012; Revised 4 December 2012; Accepted 6 December 2012

Academic Editor: Chong-Zhi Wang

Copyright © 2012 Kunihiro Kawabata et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A natural carotenoid crocin is contained in saffron and gardenia flowers (crocuses and gardenias) and is used as a food colorant. This study reports the potential inhibitory effects of crocin against inflammation-associated mouse colon carcinogenesis and chemically induced colitis in male ICR mice. In the first experiment, dietary crocin significantly inhibited the development of colonic adenocarcinomas induced by azoxymethane (AOM) and dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) in mice by week 18. Crocin feeding also suppressed the proliferation and immunohistochemical expression of nuclear factor- (NF-) κB but increased the NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) expression, in adenocarcinoma cells. In the second experiment, dietary feeding with crocin for 4 weeks was able to inhibit DSS-induced colitis and decrease the mRNA expression of tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin- (IL-) 1β, IL-6, interferon γ, NF-κB, cyclooxygenase-2, and inducible nitric oxide synthase in the colorectal mucosa and increased the Nrf2 mRNA expression. Our results suggest that dietary crocin suppresses chemically induced colitis and colitis-related colon carcinogenesis in mice, at least partly by inhibiting inflammation and the mRNA expression of certain proinflammatory cytokines and inducible inflammatory enzymes. Therefore, crocin is a candidate for the prevention of colitis and inflammation-associated colon carcinogenesis.