Background & aims: Aberrant crypt foci, precursors of colonic adenoma, are frequently positive for glutathione-S-transferase P1-1. Because deoxycholic acid is an apoptosis-inducing xenobiotic in the colon, we examined the possibility that aberrant crypt foci, through the cytoprotecting function of glutathione-S-transferase P1-1, resist deoxycholic acid-induced apoptosis, thereby surviving to become adenomas and subsequently cancer.
Methods: Glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 or cyclooxygenase-2 expression and the percentage of apoptotic cells in aberrant crypt foci were examined by immunohistochemistry and by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling, respectively. Glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 was transfected into colon cancer cells (M7609) and human lung fibroblasts, and deoxycholic acid-induced apoptosis was evaluated by a dye-uptake assay and flow cytometry. Binding of deoxycholic acid to glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 was analyzed by circular dichroism and immunoprecipitation. Caspase activities were determined by colorimetric protease assay, and sulindac binding to glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 was determined by inhibition assay of glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 activity.
Results: Aberrant crypt foci showed positive immunostaining for glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 but negative staining for cyclooxygenase-2. The percentage of apoptotic cells in aberrant crypt foci was significantly lower than in healthy epithelium, and the difference became more apparent with deoxycholic acid treatment. The impaired sensitivity of aberrant crypt foci to deoxycholic acid was restored by the glutathione-S-transferase P1-1-specific inhibitor gamma-glutamyl-S-(benzyl)cysteinyl-R-phenylglycine diethylester. By transfection of glutathione-S-transferase P1-1, M7609 cells became more resistant to deoxycholic acid-induced apoptosis than mock transfectants. Direct binding of glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 to deoxycholic acid was proven by circular dichroism and by immunoprecipitation. The aberrant crypt foci in adenoma patients treated with sulindac, which was shown to bind to glutathione-S-transferase P1-1, underwent apoptosis in 4 days and mostly regressed in 2-3 months.
Conclusions: Glutathione-S-transferase P1-1 protects aberrant crypt foci from deoxycholic acid-induced apoptosis and may play a pivotal role in early colon carcinogenesis.