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Int J Cancer. 2011 Jul 15;129(2):331-45. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25688. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Zinc deficiency activates S100A8 inflammation in the absence of COX-2 and promotes murine oral-esophageal tumor progression.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


Zinc (Zn)-deficiency (ZD) is implicated in the pathogenesis of human oral-esophageal cancers. Previously, we showed that in ZD mice genetic deletion of cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) enhances N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine-induced forestomach carcinogenesis. By contrast, Cox-2 deletion offers protection in Zn-sufficient (ZS) mice. We hypothesize that ZD activates pathways insensitive to COX-2 inhibition, thereby promoting carcinogenesis. This hypothesis is tested in a Cox-2(-/-) mouse tongue cancer model that mimics pharmacologic blockade of COX-2 by firstly examining transcriptome profiles of forestomach mucosa from Cox-2(-/-) and wild-type mice on a ZD vs. ZS diet, and secondly investigating the roles of identified markers in mouse forestomach/tongue preneoplasia and carcinomas. In Cox-2(-/-) mice exposed to the tongue carcinogen 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide, dietary ZD elicited tongue/esophagus/forestomach carcinomas that were prevented by ZS. The precancerous ZD:Cox-2(-/-) vs. ZS:Cox-2(-/-) forestomach had an inflammatory signature with upregulation of the proinflammation genes S100a8 and S100a9. Bioinformatics analysis revealed overrepresentation of inflammation processes comprising S100a8/a9 and an nuclear factor (NF)-κB network with connectivity to S100A8. Immunohistochemistry revealed co-overexpression of S100A8, its heterodimeric partner S100A9, the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE), NF-κB p65, and cyclin D1, in ZD:Cox-2(-/-) forestomach/tongue preneoplasia and carcinomas, evidence for the activation of a RAGE-S100A8/A9 inflammatory pathway. Accumulation of p53 in these carcinomas indicated activation of additional inflammatory pathways. Zn-replenishment in ZD:Cox-2(-/-) mice reversed the inflammation and inhibited carcinogenesis. Thus, ZD activates alternative inflammation-associated cancer pathways that fuel tumor progression and bypass the antitumor effect of Cox-2 ablation. These findings have important clinical implications, as combination cancer therapy that includes Zn may improve efficacy.

Copyright © 2010 UICC.

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