G-protein-coupled receptor for short-chain fatty acids suppresses colon cancer

Int J Cancer. 2011 Feb 15;128(4):847-56. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25638. Epub 2010 Oct 26.


GPR43 is a G-protein-coupled receptor for short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Expression of GPR43 is detected in hematopoietic tissues and the large intestine. SCFAs are derived from bacterial fermentation and metabolism of undigested dietary fibers and have been recognized for their cancer prevention activities in the colon. The role of SCFAs, particularly butyrate, in colon cancer therapy has been extensively studied, and its tumor suppressive functions are believed to be due to their intracellular actions, notably inhibition of histone deacetylase. In our study, we show that SCFAs also exert their antitumor effects via receptor GPR43 and that GPR43 is frequently lost in colon cancer cells. Immunohistostaining revealed that GPR43 immunoreactivity was high in normal colon tissues (N = 31) but was markedly reduced or completely lost in most colorectal adenocarcinoma tissues (N = 70) and their corresponding lymph node metastatic adenocarcinomas (N = 38). RT-PCR analysis detected the presence of full length GPR43 mRNA in only one (HT-29) of nine established human colon cancer cell lines. Restoration of GPR43 expression in HCT8 human colonic adenocarcinoma cells induced G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and activated caspases, leading to increased apoptotic cell death after propionate/butyrate treatment. Restored GPR43 expression, coupled with propionate treatment, induced an upregulation of p21 and a decrease in the levels of cyclin D3 and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) 1 and 2, while the CDK4 and CDK6 levels remained unchanged. Our results suggest that GPR43 functions as a tumor suppressor by mediating SCFA-induced cell proliferation inhibition and apoptotic cell death in colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / prevention & control
  • Apoptosis
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • G-protein coupled receptor 43, human
  • Histones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Caspases