Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), also known as lipocalin 2, is a 25-kDa lipocalin initially purified from neutrophil granules. It is thought to play a role in regulating cellular growth since its expression is highly upregulated in a variety of proliferative cells such as cancer cells. However, experimental evidence showing a clear causal relationship between NGAL expression and the proliferation of tumor cells is lacking. Here, we found NGAL expression in highly and poorly metastatic colon cancer cell lines of the same genetic origin correlated inversely with the metastatic potential of these cells, which suggests NGAL participates in the metastatic process. To explore the role NGAL plays in tumor growth and metastasis, the KM12SM human colon cancer cell line, which is highly metastatic while showing decreased NGAL expression, was genetically manipulated to overexpress NGAL. The effects of this on tumor growth and liver metastasis were then analyzed using experimental animal models established by injecting BALB/c nude mice with tumor cells subcutaneously or intrasplenically. Ectopic expression of NGAL in the colon cancer cells had little effect on the growth and viability of the tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo. However, NGAL expression not only suppressed the ability of the colon carcinoma cells to invade Matrigel in vitro, it also substantially inhibited liver metastasis in an experimental animal model. Collectively, these results indicate that NGAL may be a candidate metastasis suppressor in colon cancer cells.
Copyright (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.