Possible participation of advanced glycation end products in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer in diabetic patients

Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(6):1208-10. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2005.01.015.


Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem, being the second most common cause of cancer in developed countries. Several epidemiological studies have reported moderately increased risks of colorectal cancer in diabetic patients compared with general population. However, the underlying molecular link between diabetes and colorectal cancer remains to be elucidated. In diabetes mellitus, the formation and accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) progress. There is a growing body of evidence to show that AGEs-their receptor (RAGE) interactions are involved in the development of atherosclerosis and diabetic microangiopathy. AGEs-RAGE interactions stimulated the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells through the autocrine induction of platelet-derived growth factor-B. Furthermore, we have recently found that AGEs stimulated the growth and migration of cultured human melanoma cells and that anti-RAGE antibodies inhibited tumor formation and lung metastasis of melanoma cell xenografts and subsequently improved survival in athymic mice. These observations let us to hypothesize that AGEs could explain the molecular link between diabetes and colorectal cancer. In this paper, we would like to propose the possible ways of testing our hypotheses. Is elevation of serum AGE levels a risk factor for colorectal cancer in patients with diabetes? Does treatment with metformin, which has a potential effect on the inhibition of glycation reactions in vivo, decrease the risk for colorecetal cancer in diabetic patients? If the answer is yes, is this beneficial effect of metformin superior to that of other anti-diabetic agents with equihypoglycemic properties? Does treatment with pyridoxamine, a post-Amadori inhibitor (so-called Amadorins) of AGE formation, reduce the risk for colorectal cancer as well? Furthermore, are increased levels of AGEs and RAGE in colorectal cancer associated with poor prognosis in patients with diabetes? These clinical studies could clarify whether the AGEs-RAGE interactions serve as a causal link between diabetes and colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor / enzymology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Diabetes Complications / metabolism*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / metabolism*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • Models, Biological


  • Biomarkers
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced