BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Inflammatory CC chemokines have long been associated with cancer, but unequivocal evidence of a role in clinically relevant models of carcinogenesis is lacking. D6, a promiscuous decoy receptor that scavenges inflammatory CC chemokines, plays a non-redundant role in reducing the inflammatory response in various organs. As inflammation is a key player in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and IBD-associated colorectal cancer, we investigated D6 expression in human colitis and colon cancer, and its role in experimental colitis and inflammation-associated colon cancer.
RESULTS: In humans, D6 was mainly expressed by lymphatic vessels and leukocytes in the mucosa of individuals with IBD and colon cancer, as well as the mucosa of control individuals. Mice lacking expression of D6 were significantly more susceptible to experimental colitis than wild-type mice and failed to resolve colitis, with significantly higher levels of several pro-inflammatory chemokines. In bone marrow chimeric mice, the ability of D6 to regulate colitis was tracked to the stromal/lymphatic compartment, with no contribution of haemopoietic cells. Finally, after administration of the carcinogen azoxymethane, D6(-/-) mice showed increased susceptibility to colitis-associated cancer in the distal segment of the colon compared with wild-type mice.
CONCLUSIONS: D6 expressed on lymphatic vessels plays a key role in the control of intestinal inflammation and the development of inflammation-associated colon cancer. Our results reveal a new unexpected role for the lymphatic system in the pathogenesis of IBD and intestinal cancer, and candidate chemokines as novel players in tumour promotion and progression.
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