Endogenous liver carcinogenesis in the rat*

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Carcinogenesis may be effected not only through exposure to exogenous stimuli but also by genetic and epigenetic influences derived from endogenous factors. In the latter case, the mechanisms are still largely obscure because of the limited availability of appropriate in vivo experimental models. However, continuous feeding of a diet deficient in choline and methionine is well known to cause hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) in rats in the absence of any known exogenous carcinogens and can serve as a good research model. A semi-synthetic, choline-deficient, L-amino acid-defined (CDAA) diet, containing practically no choline and low methionine, induces HCC with a background of fatty liver and hepatocyte death, subsequent regeneration and fibrosis resulting in cirrhosis. Using the CDAA diet, we have revealed the participation of oxidative injury to DNA and other subcellular components and of alteration in intrahepatic signal transduction pathways in the mechanisms underlying this rat liver carcinogenesis model. In the present paper, the current understanding of endogenous rat liver carcinogenesis, due to dietary choline deficiency, is reviewed.

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