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Potential role for peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR) in preventing colon cancer
  1. L Jackson1,
  2. W Wahli2,
  3. L Michalik2,
  4. S A Watson1,
  5. T Morris1,
  6. K Anderton3,
  7. D R Bell4,
  8. J A Smith1,
  9. C J Hawkey1,
  10. A J Bennett3
  1. 1Wolfon Digestive Diseases Centre, University of Nottingham, UK
  2. 2Institut de Biologie Animale, Universite de Lausanne, Batiment de Biologie, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3School of Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
  4. 4School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    C J Hawkey, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK;
    cj.hawkey{at} or
    Dr A Bennett, Biomedical Sciences, Nottingham University Medical School, University Hospital Nottingham, NG7 2HH, UK;


Background: Peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs) are nuclear hormone receptors involved in genetic control of many cellular processes. PPAR and PPAR have been implicated in colonic malignancy. Here we provide three lines of evidence suggesting an inhibitory role for PPAR in colorectal cancer development.

Methods: Levels of PPAR mRNA and protein in human colorectal cancers were compared with matched non-malignant mucosa using RNAse protection and western blotting. APCMin/+ mice were randomised to receive the PPAR activator methylclofenapate 25 mg/kg or vehicle for up to 16 weeks, and small and large intestinal polyps were quantified by image analysis. The effect of methylclofenapate on serum stimulated mitogenesis (thymidine incorporation), linear cell growth, and annexin V and propidium iodide staining were assessed in human colonic epithelial cells.

Results: PPAR (mRNA and protein) expression levels were significantly depressed in colorectal cancer compared with matched non-malignant tissue. Methylclofenapate reduced polyp area in the small intestine from 18.7 mm2 (median (interquartile range 11.1, 26.8)) to 9.90 (4.88, 13.21) mm2 (p=0.003) and in the colon from 9.15 (6.31, 10.5) mm2 to 3.71 (2.71, 5.99) mm2 (p=0.009). Methylclofenapate significantly reduced thymidine incorporation and linear cell growth with no effect on annexin V or propidium iodide staining.

Conclusions: PPAR may inhibit colorectal tumour progression, possibly via inhibition of proliferation, and may be an important therapeutic target.

  • peroxisome proliferator activated receptor
  • methylclofenapate
  • colon cancer
  • NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • COX, cyclooxygenase
  • PPAR, peroxisome proliferator activated receptor
  • IQR, interquartile range
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