Barrett's esophagus, a columnar metaplasia of the lower esophagus epithelium related to gastroesophageal reflux disease, is the strongest known risk factor for the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Understanding the signal transduction events involved in esophageal epithelium carcinogenesis may provide insights into the origins of EAC and may suggest new therapies. To elucidate the molecular pathways of bile acid-induced tumorigenesis, the newly identified inflammation-associated signaling pathway involving IκB kinases β (IKKβ), tuberous sclerosis complex 1 (TSC1), and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) downstream effector S6 kinase (S6K1) was confirmed to be activated in immortalized Barrett's CPC-A and CPC-C cells and esophageal cancer SEG-1 and BE3 cells. Phosphorylation of TSC1 and S6K1 was induced in response to bile acid stimulation. Treatment of these cells with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin or the IKKβ inhibitor Bay 11-7082 suppressed bile acid-induced cell proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. We next used an orthotopic rat model to evaluate the role of bile acid in the progression of Barrett's esophagus to EAC. Of interest, we found high expression of phosphorylated IKKβ (pIKKβ) and phosphorylated S6K1 (pS6K1) in tumor tissues and the Barrett's epithelium compared with normal epithelium. Furthermore, immunostaining of clinical EAC tissue specimens revealed that pIKKβ expression was strongly correlated with pS6K1 level. Together, these results show that bile acid can deregulate TSC1/mTOR through IKKβ signaling, which may play a critical role in EAC progression. In addition, Bay 11-7082 and rapamycin may potentially be chemopreventive drugs against Barrett's esophagus-associated EAC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research