Originally, chemokines and their G-protein-coupled receptors were described to regulate multiple physiological functions, particularly tissue architecture and compartment-specific migration of white blood cells. Now, it is established that the chemokine/chemokine receptor system is also used by cancer cells for migration and metastatic spread. Here, we examined the relative levels of CC-chemokine CCL20 and its corresponding receptor CCR6 in resection specimens from patients with different malignant and non-malignant colorectal diseases as well as in colorectal liver metastases (CRLM). CCL20/CCR6 mRNA and protein expression profiles were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) in resection specimens from patients with ulcerative colitis (UC, n = 15), colorectal adenoma (CRA, n = 15), colorectal adenocarcinoma (CRC, n = 61) and colorectal liver metastases (CRLM, n = 16). Corresponding non-diseased tissues served as control. In contrast to UC tissues, the CCL20/CCR6 system showed a distinct upregulation in CRA, CRC and CRLM related to corresponding non-affected tissues (P < 0.05, respectively). Furthermore, CRA, CRC and CRLM tissue samples displayed significantly higher protein amounts of CCL20 in comparison with UC specimens (P < 0.05, respectively). Our results strongly suggest an association between CCL20/CCR6 expression and the induction of CRA, CRC and the development of CRLM. Therefore, CCL20 and CCR6 may provide potential targets for novel treatment strategies of CRC.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.