AADAC protects colorectal cancer liver colonization from ferroptosis through SLC7A11-dependent inhibition of lipid peroxidation

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Sep 26;41(1):284. doi: 10.1186/s13046-022-02493-0.


Background: Oxidative stress is a highly active metabolic process in the liver, that poses great threats to disseminated tumor cells during their colonization. Here, we aimed to investigate how colorectal cancer (CRC) cells overcome lipid peroxidation to sustain their metastatic colonization in the liver.

Methods: Orthotopic colorectal liver metastasis (CRLM) and CRC liver colonization mouse models were constructed to determine the roles of lipid peroxidation and AADAC in CRC liver colonization. The levels of lipid peroxidation were detected in cells or tissues. AADAC overexpression in LMs and its clinical relevance were analyzed. The oncogenic role of AADAC in CRC liver colonization was evaluated in cell experiments.

Results: Compared with primary tumors (PTs), liver metastases (LMs) showed significantly lower glutathione to oxidized glutathione (GSH/GSSG) ratio and higher malondialdehyde (MDA) levels in CRLM patients and orthotopic mouse models. Inhibition of lipid peroxidation by liproxstatin-1 promoted CRC liver colonization in mouse models. RNA-seq results revealed AADAC as the most significantly upregulated lipid metabolism related gene in LMs compared with PTs. Analyses of datasets and patient and mouse model samples confirmed that AADAC was upregulated in LMs compared with PTs, and was correlated with poor prognosis. AADAC promoted cell proliferation, and facilitated liver colonization in a mouse model by reducing ROS accumulation, which led to lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis. Mechanistically, AADAC upregulated SLC7A11 by activating NRF2 to inhibit lipid peroxidation, thereby protecting metastatic cells from ferroptosis.

Conclusions: AADAC protects metastatic CRC cells from ferroptosis by inhibiting lipid peroxidation in an SLC7A11-dependent manner, thus effectively promoting their metastatic colonization and growth in the liver. Together, our findings suggest that AADAC can act as a prognostic indicator and potential therapeutic target for CRLM.

Keywords: AADAC; Colorectal cancer; Ferroptosis; Liver colonization; SLC7A11.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport System y+
  • Animals
  • Carboxylic Ester Hydrolases
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ferroptosis*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Liver Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Mice
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Amino Acid Transport System y+
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Slc7a11 protein, mouse
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Aadac protein, mouse
  • Carboxylic Ester Hydrolases
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide