The role of cancer related inflammation, Src family kinases and matrix metalloproteinase 9 in colorectal cancer

Powell, Arfon Gethyn Morgan Tregellis (2016) The role of cancer related inflammation, Src family kinases and matrix metalloproteinase 9 in colorectal cancer. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2016PowellPhd.pdf] PDF
Download (10MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in the UK with 41,000 new cases diagnosed in 2011. Despite undergoing potentially curative resection, a significant amount of patients develop recurrence. Biomarkers that aid prognostication or identify patients who are suitable for adjuvant treatments are needed. The TNM staging system does a reasonably good job at offering prognostic information to the treating clinician, but it could be better and identifying methods of improving its accuracy are needed.

Tumour progression is based on a complex relationship between tumour behaviour and the hosts’ inflammatory responses. Sustained tumour cell proliferation, evading growth suppressors, resisting apoptosis, replicative immortality, sustained angiogenesis, invasion & metastasis, avoiding immune destruction, deregulated cellular energetics, tumour promoting inflammation and genomic instability & mutation have been identified as hallmarks. These hallmarks are malignant behaviors are what makes the cell cancerous and the more extreme the behaviour the more aggressive the cancer the more likely the risk of a poor outcome.

There are two primary genomic instability pathways: Microsatellite Instability (MSI) and Chromosomal Instability (CI) also referred to as Microsatellite Stability (MSS). Tumours arising by these pathways have a predilection for specific anatomical, histological and molecular biological features. It is possible that aberrant molecular expression of genes/proteins that promote malignant behaviors may also act as prognostic and predictive biomarkers, which may offer superior prognostic information to classical prognostic features.

Cancer related inflammation has been described as a 7th hallmark of cancer. Despite the systemic inflammatory response (SIR) being associated with more aggressive malignant disease, infiltration by immune cells, particularly CD8+ lymphocytes, at the advancing edge of the tumour have been associated with improved outcome and tumour MSI. It remains unknown if the SIR is associated with tumour MSI and this requires further study.

The mechanisms by which colorectal cancer cells locally invade through the bowel remain uncertain, but connective tissue degradation by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) such as MMP-9 have been implicated. MMP-9 has been found in the cancer cells, stromal cells and patient circulation. Although tumoural MMP-9 has been associated with poor survival, reports are conflicting and contain relatively small sample sizes. Furthermore, the influence of high serum MMP-9 on survival remains unknown.

Src family kinases (SFKs) have been implicated in many adverse cancer cell behaviors. SFKs comprise 9 family members BLK, C-SRC, FGR, FYN, HCK, LCK, LYN, YES, YRK. C-SRC has been the most investigated of all SFKs, but the role of other SFKs in cellular behaviors and their prognostic value remains largely unknown. The development of Src inhibitors, such as Dasatinib, has identified SFKs as a potential therapeutic target for patients at higher risk of poor survival. Unfortunately, clinical trials so far have not been promising but this may reflect inadequate patient selection and SFKs may act as useful prognostic and predictive biomarkers.

In chapter 3, the association between cancer related inflammation, tumour MSI, clinicopathological factors and survival was tested in two independent cohorts. A training cohort consisting of n=182 patients and a validation cohort of n=677 patients. MSI tumours were associated with a raised CRP (p=0.003). Hypoalbuminaemia was independently associated with poor overall survival in TNM stage II cancer (HR 3.04 (95% CI 1.44 – 6.43);p=0.004), poor recurrence free survival in TNM stage III cancer (HR 1.86 (95% 1.03 – 3.36);p=0.040) and poor overall survival in CI colorectal cancer (HR 1.49 (95% CI 1.06 – 2.10);p=0.022). Interestingly, MSI tumours were associated with poor overall survival in TNM stage III cancer (HR 2.20 (95% CI 1.10 – 4.37);p=0.025).

In chapter 4, the role of MMP-9 in colorectal cancer progression and survival was examined. MMP-9 in the tissue was assessed using IHC and serum expression quantified using ELISA. Serum MMP-9 was associated with cancer cell expression (Spearman’s Correlation Coefficient (SCC) 0.393, p<0.001)) and stromal expression (SCC 0.319, p=0.002). Serum MMP-9 was associated with poor recurrence-free (HR 3.37 (95% CI 1.20 – 9.48);p=0.021) and overall survival (HR 3.16 (95% CI 1.22 – 8.15);p=0.018), but tumour MMP-9 was not survival or MSI status.

In chapter 5, the role of SFK expression and activation in colorectal cancer progression and survival was studied. On PCR analysis, although LYN, C-SRC and YES were the most highly expressed, FGR and HCK had higher expression profiles as tumours progressed. Using IHC, raised cytoplasmic FAK (tyr 861) was independently associated with poor recurrence free survival in all cancers (HR 1.48 (95% CI 1.02 – 2.16);p=0.040) and CI cancers (HR 1.50 (95% CI 1.02 – 2.21);p=0.040). However, raised cytoplasmic HCK (HR 2.04 (95% CI 1.11 – 3.76);p=0.022) was independently associated with poor recurrence-free survival in TNM stage II cancers. T84 and HT29 cell lines were used to examine the cellular effects of Dasatinib. Cell viability was assessed using WST-1 assay and apoptosis assessed using an ELISA cell death detection assay. Dasatinib increased T84 tumour cell apoptosis in a dose dependent manner and resulted in reduced expression of nuclear (p=0.008) and cytoplasmic (p=0.016) FAK (tyr 861) expression and increased nuclear FGR expression (p=0.004).

The results of this thesis confirm that colorectal cancer is a complex disease that represents several subtypes of cancer based on molecular biological behaviors. This thesis concentrated on features of the disease related to inflammation in terms of genetic and molecular characterisation. MSI cancers are closely associated with systemic inflammation but despite this observation, they retain their relatively improved survival. MMP-9 is a feature of tissue remodeling during inflammation and is also associated with degradation of connective tissue, advanced T-stage and poor outcome when measured in the serum. The lack of stromal quantification due to TMA use rather than full sections makes the value of tumoural MMP-9 immunoreactivity in the prognostication and its association with MSI unknown and requires further study. Finally, SFK activation was also associated with SIR, however, only cytoplasmic HCK was independently associated with poor survival in patients with TNM stage II disease, the group of patients where identifying a novel biomarker is most needed. There is still some way to go before these biomarkers are translated into clinical practice and future work needs to focus on obtaining a reliable and robust scientific technique with validation in an adequately powered independent cohort.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Colorectal cancer, biomarkers.
Subjects: R Medicine > RB Pathology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
R Medicine > RD Surgery
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cancer Sciences > Translational Research Centre
Supervisor's Name: Edwards, Dr. Joanne, McMillan, Professor Donald and Horgan, Professor Paul
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Arfon Gethyn Morgan Tregellis Powell
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7652
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2016 13:52
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2016 10:42

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year