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Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy


Background: Nutraceutical foods, like walnuts which are rich in immunonutrients, can have medicinal benefits. Dietary walnuts have been shown to slow or prevent tumor growth in mice genetically programmed to grow breast or prostate tumors. This study investigated whether walnuts could exert the same preventable effect in a transplantable carcinoma rat model. Methods: Eighteen rats were randomly fed a diet containing walnuts (10% of food by weight), and 36 were fed a diet without walnuts (control) for 21 days. On day 22, 18 control diet rats were switched to the walnut diet. All other animals remained on their same diet. Within each diet group, 6 rats were implanted with the Ward colon carcinoma (TB), and 12 were sham-operated. Five days later, 6 sham-operated animals were weight-matched to a TB and then pair-fed for the remainder of the study. The remaining 6 sham-operated, or non-tumor-bearing rats, were ad-lib fed. Results: The tissue of the walnut-eating rats showed higher omega-3 fatty acid (immunonutrient) content which did not slow or prevent tumor growth or the loss of lean and fat mass typical of this TB model. In addition, blood glucose, insulin, IGF-1, and adiponectin levels were significantly lower in the TB, demonstrating metabolic dysregulation. Again, these changes were unaltered by consuming walnuts. Plasma proteomics identified six proteins elevated in the TB, but none could be connected with the observed metabolic dysregulation. Conclusion: Although walnuts’ rich immunonutrient content prevented tumor growth in genetically programmed mice models, there was no effect in this model.

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