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FASEB J. 2011 Sep;25(9):3136-45. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-184143. Epub 2011 Jun 6.

Combined inadequacies of multiple B vitamins amplify colonic Wnt signaling and promote intestinal tumorigenesis in BAT-LacZxApc1638N mice.

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Vitamins and Carcinogenesis Laboratory, Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


The Wnt pathway is a pivotal signaling cascade in colorectal carcinogenesis. The purpose of this work is to determine whether depletion of folate and other metabolically related B vitamins induces in vivo activation of intestinal Wnt signaling and whether this occurs in parallel with increased tumorigenesis. A hybrid mouse was created by crossing a Wnt-reporter animal (BAT-LacZ) with a model of colorectal cancer (Apc1638N). A mild depletion of folate and vitamins B₂, B₆, and B₁₂ was induced over 16 wk, and the control animals in each instance were pair fed a diet containing the basal requirement of these nutrients. The multiplicity of macroscopic tumors and aberrant crypt foci both increased by ~50% in the hybrid mice fed the depletion diet (P<0.05). A 4-fold elevation in Wnt signaling was produced by the depletion diet (P<0.05) and was accompanied by significant changes in the expression of a number of Wnt-related genes in a pattern consistent with its activation. Proliferation and apoptosis of the colonic mucosa both changed in a protransformational direction (P<0.05). In summary, mild depletion of multiple B vitamins produces in vivo activation of colonic Wnt signaling, implicating it as a key pathway by which B-vitamin inadequacies enhance intestinal tumorigenesis.

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