Nitric oxide shown to cause colon cancer

Jan 20, 2009 by Anne Trafton

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers long ago established a link between inflammation, cancer and the compound nitric oxide, which may be produced when the immune system responds to bacterial infections, including those of the colon. However, the exact nature of the relationship was unknown -- until now.

Scientists from MIT's Division of Comparative Medicine and Department of Biological Engineering have found that nitric oxide produced by inflammatory cells during bacterial infection can cause colon cells to become cancerous. The finding suggests that blocking the compound may help prevent or treat colon cancer, the third most common form of cancer in the United States.

The researchers, led by James Fox, director of the Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM), report their findings in the Jan. 19 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Many years ago it was discovered that gastrointestinal infection by H. pylori is often linked to cancer in humans; a related bacteria called H. hepaticus has similar effects in mice.

Nitric oxide is produced during the inflammatory response to such bacterial infection, but it has been unclear whether it was damaging cells or protecting them. By studying mice, the MIT team found that nitric oxide produced by different types of cells has different effects.

"Nitric oxide delivered by inflammatory cells, in particular, is important in causing changes in intestinal epithelial cells, setting the stage for cancer development," said Susan Erdman, principal research scientist in the Division of Comparative Medicine and lead author of the PNAS paper.

In mice infected with H. hepaticus, the researchers found that blocking an enzyme needed to produce nitric oxide reduced colon cancer rates. More work is needed to study the exact effects of nitric oxide and develop potential clinical therapies for colon cancer, Erdman said.

"Therapies will need to be targeted to inhibit the damaging effects of nitric oxide while preserving as many of the protective elements of nitric oxide as possible," she said.

"This study is a wonderful example of the value and final product that results from an interdisciplinary team effort," said Fox.

Provided by MIT

Explore further: New breast cancer imaging method promising

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New hybrid 'NOSH aspirin' as possible anti-cancer drug

Feb 29, 2012

Scientists have combined two new "designer" forms of aspirin into a hybrid substance that appears more effective than either of its forebears in controlling the growth of several forms of cancer in laboratory ...

Researchers developing new drug class to combat Alzheimer's

Oct 22, 2008

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy has received a four-year, $1.87 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue research into discovering a new drug class that will treat Alzheimer's ...

Recommended for you

New breast cancer imaging method promising

56 minutes ago

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Palliation is rarely a topic in studies on advanced cancer

1 hour ago

End-of-life aspects, the corresponding terminology, and the relevance of palliation in advanced cancer are often not considered in publications on randomized controlled trials (RCTs). This is the result of an analysis by ...

Breast cancer replicates brain development process

1 hour ago

New research led by a scientist at the University of York reveals that a process that forms a key element in the development of the nervous system may also play a pivotal role in the spread of breast cancer.

Is genetic instability the key to beating cancer?

3 hours ago

Cancerous tumors may be poised at the edge of their own destruction, an insight that could help researchers find new, more effective treatments, suggest SFI External Professor Ricard Solé and colleagues in an April 9 paper ...

Phase 3 study may be game-changer for acute myeloid leukemia

7 hours ago

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers say clinical trials for a new experimental drug to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are very promising. Patients treated with CPX-351, a combination of the chemotherapeutic drugs cytarabine ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Jan 20, 2009
how sure are they that it's NO and not superoxide or ozone, both of which are produced and cause inflammation
barakn
1 / 5 (1) Jan 20, 2009
Didn't read the article, obviously.
E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Jan 20, 2009
Inflammation = accelerated electron speed & spin = "Heat". hypertherapy causes cancer, hypOtherapy can CURE it! Rate of mitosis directly related to temp.!
JayDub
not rated yet Jan 22, 2009
So should people not be taking suppliments that promote the production of NO? There are a lot of those out there right now. If the body is producing it naturally as a response to inflamation...
I though NO had anti-cancer properties.
I know there is NOS, Nitric Oxide Synthases too. Ugh, could someone please break it down for the "lay person"? Thanks.

More news stories

New breast cancer imaging method promising

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Breast cancer replicates brain development process

New research led by a scientist at the University of York reveals that a process that forms a key element in the development of the nervous system may also play a pivotal role in the spread of breast cancer.

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...