Relationship Between Increased Fucosylation and Metastatic Potential in Colorectal Cancer

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Background: Fucose is utilized for the modification of different molecules involved in blood group determination, immunological reactions, and signal transduction pathways. We have recently reported that enhanced activity of the fucosyltransferase 3 and/or 6 promoted TGF-ß-mediated epithelial mesenchymal transition and was associated with increased metastatic potential of colorectal cancer (CRC), suggesting that fucose is required by CRC cells. With this in mind, we examined requirement of L-fucose in CRC cells and developed fucose-bound nanoparticles as vehicles for delivery of anticancer drugs specific to CRC.

Methods: In this study, we first examined the expression of fucosylated proteins in 50 cases of CRC by immunochistochemical staining with biotinylated Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL). Then we carried out an L-fucose uptake assay using three CRC cell lines. Finally, we developed fucose-bound nanoparticles as vehicles for the delivery of an anticancer drug, SN38, and examined tumor growth inhibition in mouse xenograft model (n = 6 mice per group). All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: We found a statistically significant relationship between vascular invasion, clinical stage, and intensity score of AAL staining (P ≤ .02). L-fucose uptake assay revealed that L-fucose incorporation, as well as fucosylated protein release, was high in cells rich in fucosylated proteins. L-fucose-bound liposomes effectively delivered Cy5.5 into CRC cells. The excess of L-fucose decreased the efficiency of Cy5.5 uptake through L-fucose-bound liposomes, suggesting an L-fucose receptor dependency. Intravenously injected, L-fucose-bound liposomes carrying SN38 were successfully delivered to CRC cells, mediating efficient tumor growth inhibition (relative tumor growth ratio: no treatment group [NT], 8.29 ± 3.09; SN38-treated group [SN38], 3.53 ± 1.47; liposome-carrying, SN38-treated group [F0], 3.1 ± 1.39; L-fucose-bound, liposome-carrying, SN38-treated group [F50], 0.94 ± 0.89; F50 vs NT, P = .003; F50 vs SN38, P = .02, F50 vs F0, P = .04), as well as prolonging survival of mouse xenograft models (log-rank test, P < .001).

Conclusions: Thus, fucose-bound liposomes carrying anticancer drugs provide a new strategy for the treatment of CRC patients.

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