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Int J Cancer. 2011 Aug 1;129(3):546-52. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25958. Epub 2011 May 5.

Downregulation of breast cancer resistance protein in colon adenomas reduces cellular xenobiotic resistance and leads to accumulation of a food-derived carcinogen.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.


Several molecular changes in colorectal adenomas provide the basis of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence. We investigated the expression of xenobiotic ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters in humans and in ApcMin mice and conducted functional studies estimating the importance of the expression changes. Twenty-nine adenomas from 21 patients and eight adenomas from four ApcMin mice were analyzed using Western blotting and quantitative Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Adjacent healthy tissue served as control for each polyp. Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) was significantly downregulated in human colorectal adenomas (to 28 ± 35% of adjacent healthy tissue). This was in line with data from ApcMin mice adenomas, where downregulation was significant as well (to 58 ± 34%). In parallel, quantitative RT-PCR showed BCRP mRNA downregulation in human adenomas (to 17 ± 31%). Basal multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 expression was low and did not change in adenomas; multidrug resistance transporter 1 expression also did not differ between adenomas and healthy tissue. In a functional study, ApcMin mice received radioactively labelled 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-β] pyridine (PhIP), a food colon carcinogen and substrate of BCRP, by oral gavage with analysis of PhIP accumulation and DNA adduct formation 48 hr later. In this setting, we could demonstrate a higher carcinogen concentration in adenomas of ApcMin mice (181 ± 113% of normal tissue) including immunohistochemical detection of PhIP-DNA adducts. We conclude that significant transcriptional downregulation of BCRP/Bcrp leads to higher carcinogen concentrations in colorectal adenomas of mice and men. This might promote the adenoma-carcinoma sequence by higher genotoxic effects. The results indicate a possible role of transporter deficiencies in susceptibility for colon carcinoma.

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