Background & AimsAspirin reduces colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality. Understanding the biology responsible for this protective effect is key to developing biomarker-led approaches for rational clinical use. Wnt signaling drives CRC development from initiation to progression through regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cell populations. Here, we investigated whether aspirin can rescue these proinvasive phenotypes associated with CRC progression in Wnt-driven human and mouse intestinal organoids.MethodsWe evaluated aspirin-mediated effects on phenotype and stem cell markers in intestinal organoids derived from mouse (ApcMin/+ and Apcflox/flox) and human familial adenomatous polyposis patients. CRC cell lines (HCT116 and Colo205) were used to study effects on motility, invasion, Wnt signaling, and EMT.ResultsAspirin rescues the Wnt-driven cystic organoid phenotype by promoting budding in mouse and human Apc deficient organoids, which is paralleled by decreased stem cell marker expression. Aspirin-mediated Wnt inhibition in ApcMin/+ mice is associated with EMT inhibition and decreased cell migration, invasion, and motility in CRC cell lines. Chemical Wnt activation induces EMT and stem-like alterations in CRC cells, which are rescued by aspirin. Aspirin increases expression of the Wnt antagonist Dickkopf-1 in CRC cells and organoids derived from familial adenomatous polyposis patients, which contributes to EMT and cancer stem cell inhibition.ConclusionsWe provide evidence of phenotypic biomarkers of response to aspirin with an increased epithelial and reduced stem-like state mediated by an increase in Dickkopf-1. This highlights a novel mechanism of aspirin-mediated Wnt inhibition and potential phenotypic and molecular biomarkers for trials.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Stem cells