J Cancer Prev.  2021 Mar;26(1):41-53. 10.15430/JCP.2021.26.1.41.

Nuclear Factor Erythroid 2-related Factor 2 Knockout Suppresses the Development of Aggressive Colorectal Cancer Formation Induced by Azoxymethane/Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Treatment in Female Mice

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine and Liver Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Pathology, Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital, Hwaseong, Korea
  • 4Laboratory of Immunology, Division of Biotechnology Review and Research-III, Office of Biotechnology Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD, USA


Colon tumors develop more frequently in male than in female. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) plays differential roles in the stage of tumorigenesis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of Nrf2 on colitis-associated tumorigenesis using Nrf2 knockout (KO) female mice. Azoxymethane (AOM) and dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-treated wild-type (WT) and Nrf2 KO female mice were sacrificed at week 2 and 16 after AOM injection. Severity of colitis, tumor incidence, and levels of inflammatory mediators were evaluated in AOM/DSS-treated WT and Nrf2 KO mice. Furthermore, qRT-PCR, Western blot abnalysis, and ELISA were performed in colon tissues. At week 2, AOM/DSS-induced colon tissue damages were significantly greater in Nrf2 KO than in WT mice. At week 16, tumor numbers (> 2 mm size) were significantly lower in both the proximal and distal colon in Nrf2 KO compared to WT. The overall incidences of adenoma/cancer of the proximal colon and submucosal invasive cancer of the distal colon were reduced by Nrf2 KO. The mRNA and protein expression levels of NF-κB-related mediators (i.e., iNOS and COX-2) and Nrf2-related antioxidants (i.e., heme oxygenase-1 and glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunit) were significantly lower in the Nrf2 KO than in WT mice. Interestingly, the protein level of 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) was higher in AOM/DSS-treated Nrf2 KO than in WT mice. Our results support the oncogenic effect of Nrf2 in the later stage of carcinogenesis and upregulation of tumor suppressor 15-PGDH might contribute to the repression of colitis-associated tumorigenesis in Nrf2 KO female mice.


Colitis-associated carcinogenesis; Nrf2 knockout; AOM/DSS mouse model; Colon cancer; 15-PGDH
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