Theranostics 2022; 12(8):3928-3945. doi:10.7150/thno.70762 This issue

Research Paper

5-HT2B-mediated serotonin activation in enterocytes suppresses colitis-associated cancer initiation and promotes cancer progression

Liyuan Mao1#, Fang Xin1#, Jie Ren2#, Shuai Xu1, Haixia Huang1, Xu Zha1, Xinxin Wen1, Guoqing Gu1, Guang Yang1, Yuan Cheng1, Chen Zhang3✉, Wei Wang1✉, Xicheng Liu1,4✉

1. Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.
2. Department of Immunology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.
3. Department of Neurobiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.
4. Beijing Key Laboratory of Cancer Invasion and Metastasis Research, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.
# Contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). See http://ivyspring.com/terms for full terms and conditions.
Citation:
Mao L, Xin F, Ren J, Xu S, Huang H, Zha X, Wen X, Gu G, Yang G, Cheng Y, Zhang C, Wang W, Liu X. 5-HT2B-mediated serotonin activation in enterocytes suppresses colitis-associated cancer initiation and promotes cancer progression. Theranostics 2022; 12(8):3928-3945. doi:10.7150/thno.70762. Available from https://www.thno.org/v12p3928.htm

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Abstract

Graphic abstract

Rationale: Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is generally considered to be involved in colitis-associated cancer (CAC), but previous research has yielded inconsistent results regarding the effect of 5-HT on CAC. 5-HT2B is one of the receptors of 5-HT, and the receptor is expressed in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). However, the functions of 5-HT2B in CAC remain unclear. Our work demonstrates the variable functions of 5-HT/5-HT2B signaling in the initiation and progression of CAC in mice.

Methods: We constructed two types of mutant mice homozygous knockout of Htr2b, the gene encoding 5-HT2B, in IECs (Htr2bΔIEC and Htr2bΔIEC-ER) to study the role of 5-HT2B in AOM/DSS-induced CAC model. Inflammation was measured using the body weight, colon length, and colitis severity score, and by histologic analysis of colon tissues. Tumor severity was assessed by tumor quantity, load, and histologic analysis of colon tumor tissues.

Results: In Htr2bΔIEC mice, AOM/DSS induced an enhancement of colitis and tumor severity. This process was due to the inhibition of TGF-β/SMAD signaling pathway and activation of IL-6/STAT3 signaling pathway. IL-6 antibody treatment reversed the stimulating effect of Htr2b deletion on tumorigenesis. However, tumor severity decreased in Htr2bΔIEC-ER mice injected with tamoxifen on day 48 of AOM/DSS treatment. Knockout Akt1 eliminated the function of 5-HT in promoting tumor cells.

Conclusion: Our work elucidates 5-HT/5-HT2B/TGF-β signaling as a critical tumor suppressing axis during CAC initiation but as a promoter of cancer progression in the late-stage of CAC. Our findings provide a new understanding of the role of 5-HT in the initiation and progression of CAC, offering a new perspective on the long-standing debate on whether the 5-HT signal promotes or inhibits tumors.

Keywords: Serotonin, 5-HT2B, colitis-associated cancer, TGF-β