Rapidly cycling Lgr5+ stem cells are exquisitely sensitive to extrinsic dietary factors that modulate colon cancer risk. Academic Article uri icon


  • The majority of colon tumors are driven by aberrant Wnt signaling in intestinal stem cells, which mediates an efficient route toward initiating intestinal cancer. Natural lipophilic polyphenols and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) generally suppress Wnt- and NF-B- (nuclear factor- light-chain enhancer of activated B-cell) related pathways. However, the effects of these extrinsic agents on colonic leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein-coupled receptor 5-positive (Lgr5+) stem cells, the cells of origin of colon cancer, have not been documented to date. Therefore, we examined the effect of n-3 PUFA and polyphenol (curcumin) combination on Lgr5+ stem cells during tumor initiation and progression in the colon compared with an n-6 PUFA-enriched control diet. Lgr5-EGFP-IRES-creERT2 knock-in mice were fed diets containing n-6 PUFA (control), n-3 PUFA, n-6 PUFA+curcumin or n-3 PUFA+curcumin for 3 weeks, followed by 6 azoxymethane (AOM) injections, and terminated 17 weeks after the last injection. To further elucidate the effects of the dietary bioactives at the tumor initiation stage, Lgr5+ stem cells were also assessed at 12 and 24h post AOM injection. Only n-3 PUFA+curcumin feeding reduced nuclear -catenin in aberrant crypt foci (by threefold) compared with control at the progression time point. n-3 PUFA+curcumin synergistically increased targeted apoptosis in DNA-damaged Lgr5+ stem cells by 4.5-fold compared with control at 12h and maximally reduced damaged Lgr5+ stem cells at 24h, down to the level observed in saline-treated mice. Finally, RNAseq analysis indicated that p53 signaling in Lgr5+ stem cells from mice exposed to AOM was uniquely upregulated only following n-3 PUFA+curcumin cotreatment. These novel findings demonstrate that Lgr5+ stem cells are uniquely responsive to external dietary cues following the induction of DNA damage, providing a therapeutic strategy for eliminating damaged Lgr5+ stem cells to reduce colon cancer initiation.

published proceedings

  • Cell Death Dis

altmetric score

  • 11.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, E., Davidson, L. A., Zoh, R. S., Hensel, M. E., Salinas, M. L., Patil, B. S., ... Chapkin, R. S.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Eunjoo||Davidson, Laurie A||Zoh, Roger S||Hensel, Martha E||Salinas, Michael L||Patil, Bhimanagouda S||Jayaprakasha, Guddadarangavvanahally K||Callaway, Evelyn S||Allred, Clinton D||Turner, Nancy D||Weeks, Brad R||Chapkin, Robert S

publication date

  • January 2016