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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 11;8(11):e79182. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079182. eCollection 2013.

Characterization of dextran sodium sulfate-induced inflammation and colonic tumorigenesis in Smad3(-/-) mice with dysregulated TGFβ.

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Department of Comparative Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.


There are few mouse models that adequately mimic large bowel cancer in humans or the gastrointestinal inflammation which frequently precedes it. Dextran sodium sulphate (DSS)-induces colitis in many animal models and has been used in combination with the carcinogen azoxymethane (AOM) to induce cancer in mice. Smad3(-/-) mice are deficient in the transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling molecule, SMAD3, resulting in dysregulation of the cellular pathway most commonly affected in human colorectal cancer, and develop inflammation-associated colon cancer. Previous studies have shown a requirement for a bacterial trigger for the colitis and colon cancer phenotype in Smad3(-/-) mice. Studies presented here in Smad3(-/-) mice detail disease induction with DSS, without the use of AOM, and show a) Smad3(-/-) mice develop a spectrum of lesions ranging from acute and chronic colitis, crypt herniation, repair, dysplasia, adenomatous polyps, disseminated peritoneal adenomucinosis, adenocarcinoma, mucinous adenocarcinoma (MAC) and squamous metaplasia; b) the colon lesions have variable galactin-3 (Mac2) staining c) increased DSS concentration and duration of exposure leads to increased severity of colonic lesions; d) heterozygosity of SMAD3 does not confer increased susceptibility to DSS-induced disease and e) disease is partially controlled by the presence of T and B cells as Smad3(-/-) Rag2(-/-) double knock out (DKO) mice develop a more severe disease phenotype. DSS-induced disease in Smad3(-/-) mice may be a useful animal model to study not only inflammation-driven MAC but other human diseases such as colitis cystica profunda (CCP) and pseudomyxomatous peritonei (PMP).

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