Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) regulates the homeostasis of sphingolipids, including ceramides and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). These sphingolipids regulate carcinogenesis and proliferation, survival, and apoptosis of cancer cells. However, the role of ASM in host defense against liver metastasis remains unclear. In this study, the involvement of ASM in liver metastasis of colon cancer was examined using Asm–/– and Asm+/+ mice that were inoculated with SL4 colon cancer cells to produce metastatic liver tumors. Asm–/– mice demonstrated enhanced tumor growth and reduced macrophage accumulation in the tumor, accompanied by decreased numbers of hepatic myofibroblasts (hMFs), which express tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1), around the tumor margin. Tumor growth was increased by macrophage depletion or by Timp1 deficiency, but was decreased by hepatocyte-specific ASM overexpression, which was associated with increased S1P production. S1P stimulated macrophage migration and TIMP1 expression in hMFs in vitro. These findings indicate that ASM in the liver inhibits tumor growth through cytotoxic macrophage accumulation and TIMP1 production by hMFs in response to S1P. Targeting ASM may represent a new therapeutic strategy for treating liver metastasis of colon cancer.
Yosuke Osawa, Atsushi Suetsugu, Rie Matsushima-Nishiwaki, Ichiro Yasuda, Toshiji Saibara, Hisataka Moriwaki, Mitsuru Seishima, Osamu Kozawa
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