Macrophage-derived IL-1beta stimulates Wnt signaling and growth of colon cancer cells: a crosstalk interrupted by vitamin D3

Oncogene. 2009 Nov 5;28(44):3892-902. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.247. Epub 2009 Aug 24.


Tumor-associated macrophages mediate the link between inflammation and cancer progression. Here, we showed that macrophage-derived soluble factors induce canonical Wnt signaling in colon cancer cells and promote their growth. Tumor cells induced the release of interleukin (IL)-1beta from macrophages, which induced phosphorylation of GSK3beta, stabilized beta-catenin, enhanced T-cell factor (TCF)-dependent gene activation and induced the expression of Wnt target genes in tumor cells. Neutralization experiments using anti-IL-1beta-specific antibodies, or silencing of IL-1beta in THP1 macrophages, showed that IL-1beta was required for macrophages to induce Wnt signaling and to support the growth of tumor cells. Constitutive activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)1 in THP1 macrophages was essential for the induction of IL-1beta and thus for the activation of beta-catenin signaling in tumor cells. Vitamin D3, an effective chemopreventive agent, interrupted this crosstalk by blocking the constitutive activation of STAT1 and the production of IL-1beta in macrophages, and therefore-in a vitamin D receptor-dependent manner-inhibited the ability of macrophages to activate Wnt signaling in colon carcinoma cells. Our data therefore established that vitamin D3 exerts its chemopreventive activity by interrupting a crosstalk between tumor epithelial cells and the tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Cell Communication / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Neoplasm Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Antibodies
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • STAT1 protein, human
  • Vitamins
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Cholecalciferol
  • GSK3B protein, human
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3