Liver metastasis is the major obstacle for prolonging the survival of colon cancer patients. Low molecular-weight heparin (LMWH), a common drug for venous thromboembolism, has displayed beneficial effects in improving the survival of cancer patients, though the mechanism remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effects of LMWH on hepatic metastasis of colon cancer and its underlying molecular mechanism by targeting the interaction of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand CXCL12 (formerly known as stromal cell-derived factor 1α, SDF-1α), as the CXCR4-CXCL12 axis has been shown to regulate the interaction of cancer cells and stroma. Experimental results revealed that LMWH (Enoxaparin, 3500-5500 Da) inhibited the CXCL12-stimulated proliferation, adhesion and colony formation of human colon cancer HCT-116 cells that highly expressed CXCR4. Interestingly, LMWH or an anti-CXCR4 blocking antibody diminished the migrating and invading abilities of HCT116 cells stimulated by the recombinant CXCL12 protein or liver homogenates which contained endogenous CXCL12 protein. Although LMWH did not significantly inhibit the growth of subcutaneous colon tumors, it significantly suppressed the formation of hepatic metastasis established by intrasplenic injection of colon cancer cells in nude Balb/c mice and also downregulated the expression of CXCL12 in hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells. The results suggest that LMWH inhibits the formation of hepatic metastasis of colon cancer by disrupting the interaction of CXCR4 and CXCL12, supporting that perioperative administration of LMWH may help to prevent the seeding and subsequent growth of hepatic metastases of colon cancer cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)