Two proteins identified that would help diagnose colon cancer

People who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are more likely to develop Colon Cancer because the chronic inflammation that characterizes these pathologies is one of the risk factors that predispose to this type of tumour, but the molecular aspects of the relationship between cancer and inflammation are not yet known.

A new study by researchers from Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark and Stanford University (USA), can help to better understand this relationship because it has identified proteins which are involved in inflammation markers of colon cancer diagnosis and some ulcerative colitis.

The presence of these risk markers in the early stages of the disease could improve survival rates. Inflammation is a response of our immune system that is triggered to protect the body from stimuli that damage it and activate healing and regeneration processes, explained the authors of the study published in Cancer Communication.

Chronic inflammation as a risk factor for cancer

Chronic inflammation is also one of the causes linked to the appearance of cancer and for this reason many researchers are trying to determine the role that inflammation plays in the development of this disease in order to find new and more effective methods. . antitumor treatments. The authors of the new study analyzed the levels of p38γ and p38δ proteins, regulators of inflammation, as well as their mechanism of activation and the expression levels of their messenger RNAs, in patients with inflammatory diseases of the bowel and colorectal cancer.

“Increased p38γ levels are linked to the expression of proteins involved in inflammation and immune response, tumor-related proteins, and other molecules involved in inflammatory processes and cancer development”

“We have observed that, in sick patients, the levels of p38δ decrease, while those of p38γ increase, in particular the activation, caused by phosphorylation, of this protein”, explains Ana Cuenda, researcher at the National Biotechnology Center ( CNB-CSIC). “Detection of these changes in plasma samples would facilitate the use of these proteins as markers using liquid biopsy“, he specifies.

Pilar Fajardo, first author of the study and also a researcher at the CNB-CSIC, said: “The increase in p38γ levels is linked to the expression of proteins involved in inflammation and the immune response, such as IL-6 and CCL5, tumor-related proteins, such as MMP9 and TIMP1, and other molecules also involved in inflammatory processes and cancer development.” “This suggests that p38γ may have clinical value in detecting the risk at an early stage and improve survival rates,” he says.

“The approach of this research was global,” say Cuenda and Juan José Sanz-Ezquerro, researcher at CNB-CSIC, “because we used human blood plasma samples, we analyzed different mRNA databases of human patients and have generated miniaturized organs or organoids derived from patient tumors, in collaboration with a team from the Alberto Sols Biomedical Research Institute (IIB-CSIC-UAM)”.

These researchers also used a model of colon cancer associated with colitis in mice, in which they verified that in the absence of these proteins, the animals have less inflammation and develop fewer tumors. The results of this model were similar to those observed with human samples, so the described mechanism could be generalized.

Source: Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)

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