Savkovic SD, Flemington E, Nakhoul H, Heller S, Crawford SE, Baddoo M, Cable C, Penrose HM
Obesity, an immense epidemic affecting approximately half a billion adults, has doubled in prevalence in the last several decades. Epidemiological data support that obesity, due to intake of a high-fat, western diet, increases the risk of colon cancer; however, the mechanisms underlying this risk remain unclear. Here, utilizing next generation RNA sequencing, we aimed to determine the high-fat diet (HFD) mediated expression profile in mouse colon and the azoxymethane/dextran sulfate sodium model of colon cancer. Mice on HFD had significantly higher colonic inflammation, tumor burden, and a number of differentially expressed transcripts compared to mice on regular diet (RD). We identified 721 transcripts differentially expressed in mouse HFD colon that were in a shared pattern with colonic tumors (RD and HFD). Importantly, in mouse colon, HFD stimulated an expression signature strikingly similar to human colon cancer, especially those with inflammatory microsatellite instability. Furthermore, pathway analysis of these transcripts demonstrated their association with active inflammation and colon cancer signaling, with leptin and Wnt as the top two transcripts elevated in mouse HFD colon shared with tumors. Moreover, in mouse colon, HFD-stimulated tumorigenic Wnt pathway activation was further validated by upregulation of β-catenin transcriptional targets. Finally, in human colon cancer, upregulation of leptin pathway members was shown with a large network of dysregulated transcripts being linked with worse overall survival.