Mesalazine inhibits the beta-catenin signalling pathway acting through the upregulation of mu-protocadherin gene in colo-rectal cancer cells

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Jan;31(1):108-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2009.04149.x.


Background: Several reports indicate that mesalazine (5-aminosalicylic acid, 5-ASA) is a promising candidate for the chemoprevention of colo-rectal cancer because of its ability to reach the purpose avoiding the unwanted side effects usually associated with prolonged administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This activity of 5-ASA is probably the consequence of a number of effects determined on colo-rectal cancer cells, consisting of reduced proliferation, increased apoptosis and activation of cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair processes. A recent observation has suggested that inhibition of beta-catenin signalling could induce these cellular effects.

Aim: To characterize better the capacity of 5-ASA to inhibit the beta-catenin signalling pathway.

Methods: Genes belonging to the beta-catenin signalling pathway were analysed in colo-rectal cancer cell lines treated with 5-ASA using a combination of laboratory assays that are able to detect their phenotypic expression and functional activity.

Results: The results obtained indicated that 5-ASA induces the expression of a protein called mu-protocadherin that belongs to the cadherin superfamily and is able to sequester beta-catenin on the plasmatic membrane of treated cells hampering its function.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that mu-protocadherin might be employed as a biological marker to monitor the chemopreventive efficacy of 5-ASA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mesalamine / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • beta Catenin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • beta Catenin / genetics


  • Cadherins
  • beta Catenin
  • Mesalamine