Dietary cholesterol promotes AOM-induced colorectal cancer through activating the NLRP3 inflammasome

Qianming Du, Qing Wang, Huimin Fan, Jianing Wang, Xiuting Liu, Hong Wang, Yajing Wang, Rong Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prolonged ingestion of a cholesterol-enriched diet induces chronic, auto-inflammatory responses resulting in significant health problems including colorectal cancer. Inflammasomes are thought to mediate intestinal homeostasis, and their dysregulation contributes to inflammatory bowel diseases and colitis-associated cancer (CAC). However, in vitro and in vivo information regarding the inflammation-inducing and tumor-promoting effect of cholesterol is lacking. Here we show that the cholesterol promoted colon carcinogenesis in azoxymethane (AOM)-treated mice through activating the NLRP3 inflammasome. High cholesterol diet (HCD) significantly increased inflammatory responses and tumor burden. Cholesterol crystals, detected in the colon of mice fed with HCD, also promoted NLRP3 inflammasome activation in macrophages, as indicated by elevated expression of cleaved caspase-1, formation of NLRP3-ASC-caspase-1 complex assembly, and higher IL-1β secretion. Importantly, cholesterol was found to inhibit the activity of AMPKα in macrophages, leading to a significant production of mitochondrial ROS, which in turn activated the NLRP3 inflammasome. Moreover, crystal uptake and cathepsin B accounted for cholesterol crystal-induced inactivation of AMPKα. Finally, HCD-induced increase in IL-1β secretion, macrophage infiltration and tumor burden was diminished by the deletion of NLRP3 in AOM-treated mice. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that the pro-inflammatory and cancer-promoting effects of HCD are mediated by the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome. Our study extended our knowledge on how dietary choices can influence processes involved in chronic inflammatory disorders and colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-54
Number of pages13
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Volume105
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • Cholesterol
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Mitochondrial ROS
  • NLRP3 inflammasome

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