Many colorectal cancers have high levels of cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), an enzyme that metabolizes the essential fatty acids into prostaglandins. Since the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLr) is involved in the uptake of essential fatty acids, we studied the effect of LDL on growth and gene regulation in colorectal cancer cells. DiFi cells grown in lipoprotein-deficient sera (LPDS) grew more slowly than cells with LDL. LDLr antibody caused significant inhibition of tumor cell growth but did not affect controls. In addition, LDL uptake did not change in the presence of excess LDL, suggesting that ldlr mRNA lacks normal feedback regulation in some colorectal cancers. Analysis of the ldlr mRNA showed that excess LDL in the medium did not cause down-regulation of the message even after 24 hr. The second portion of the study examined the mRNA expression of ldlr and its co-regulation with cox-2 in normal and tumor specimens from patients with colorectal adenocarcinomas. The ratio of tumor:paired normal mucosa of mRNA expression of ldlr and of cox-2 was measured in specimens taken during colonoscopy. ldlr and cox-2 transcripts were apparent in 11 of 11 carcinomas. There was significant coordinate up-regulation both of ldlr and of cox-2 in 6 of 11 (55%) tumors compared with normal colonic mucosa. There was no up-regulation of cox-2 without concomitant up-regulation of ldlr. These data suggest that the LDLr is abnormally regulated in some colorectal tumors and may play a role in the up-regulation of cox-2.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.