Background & aims: Although bile acids have been implicated in colon cancer development, their role in biliary tract carcinogenesis remains unexplored. Because receptor tyrosine kinases and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 have been implicated in carcinogenesis, we examined the hypothesis that bile acids modulate these enzymes in KMBC cells, a human cholangiocarcinoma cell line.
Methods: The effect of bile acids on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) stimulation, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation, and COX-2 expression was evaluated.
Results: Bile acids both induced EGFR phosphorylation and enhanced COX-2 protein expression. Bile acid-induced EGFR phosphorylation was associated with subsequent activation of MAPK p42/44, p38, and c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK). The MAPK inhibitors, PD098059 for MAP or extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1, SB203580 for p38, and BAY 37-9751 for Raf-1, blocked COX-2 induction by bile acids. However, inhibition of JNK activity did not block bile acid-mediated COX-2 induction.
Conclusions: The results show that EGFR is activated by bile acids and functions to induce COX-2 expression by an MAPK cascade. This induction of COX-2 may participate in the genesis and progression of cholangiocarcinomas.