David E. Williams, Ph.D.

Professor of Food Science and Technology

My research focuses on relationships between diet and cancer and the modulation of drug metabolism by dietary phytochemicals.

Utilizing the rainbow trout model, we are characterizing the mechanisms by which anti-carcinogens and tumor promoters modulate carcinogenesis. Particular emphasis has been placed on indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a major constituent of cruciferous vegetables.

Recent research by Drs. Bailey, Hendricks, and me has shown I3C to be capable of functioning both as an inhibitor and promoter of cancer, depending on the exposure protocol. These results are of direct relevance to humans, as the National Institutes of Health are currently examining I3C in human clinical trials for possible use in the chemoprevention of breast cancer.

Dietary I3C also markedly alters the two major monooxygenase enzyme systems in liver, cytochrome P450 (CYP) and flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO). These monooxygenase enzymes are responsible for the metabolism and ultimate elimination from the body of most of the foreign chemicals to which we are exposed. I3C in the diet simultaneously induces CYP and inhibits FMO. This dual action of I3C may have a profound effect on the pathways by which the liver metabolizes drugs, plant alkaloids, and other xenobiotics.

My laboratory is also interested in the relationship between oxidative stress and carcinogenesis. We have demonstrated that pro-oxidants, such as hydrogen peroxide, are effective promoters of liver cancer in trout. We would like to understand how oxidative damage enhances tumor development and how that process might be inhibited by dietary antioxidants, such as vitamin E.

Last updated November, 1996

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