The Wnt antagonist sFRP1 is downregulated in premalignant large bowel adenomas

Germaine Caldwell, Carolyn Jones, Philippe Taniere, R Warrack, Y Soon, Glenn Matthews, Dion Morton

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Our previous studies have implicated the Wnt antagonist, sFRP1, as a tumour suppressor gene in advanced colorectal cancer. In this study, we set out to investigate the relationship between sFRP1 expression and large bowel adenomas, a precursor of colorectal cancer. The induction of beta-catenin/TCF mediated transcription is both a frequent early event in colorectal neoplasia, and a key downstream effect of wnt growth factor signalling. Lithium treatment of a small bowel mucosal cell line (FHs 74 int) induced sFRP1 within 8 h, indicating that this gene is positively regulated by beta-catenin, contrasting with the suppression of sFRP1 expression, we saw previously in advanced colorectal cancers. We therefore investigated a series of 12 adenomas and matched large bowel mucosa samples. Real-time RT-PCR analysis showed a reduction in sFRP1 expression in all 12 dysplastic lesions (median 485-fold, IQR 120- to 1500-fold), indicating factors other than beta-catenin influence sFRP1 levels. In a second series of 11 adenomas, we identified methylation of the sFRP1 promotor region in all 11 samples, and this was increased compared with the surrounding normal mucosa in seven cases. Immunohistochemical analysis using a polyclonal antibody supported these findings, with sFRP1 expression reduced in many of the adenoma samples examined. sFRP1 staining in normal mucosa adjacent to the dysplastic tissue was also reduced compared with the normal controls, suggesting that sFRP1 expression may be suppressed in a field of mucosa rather than in individual cells. This study identifies sFRP1 inactivation at the premalignant stage of colorectal cancer development, indicating that these pathways may be useful targets for chemoprevention strategies in this common solid tumour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)922-927
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2006


  • frizzled related protein
  • Wnt signalling
  • colorectal carcinogenesis


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