Colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CAC) is a severe complication of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). HIF-prolyl hydroxylases (PHD1, PHD2, and PHD3) control cellular adaptation to hypoxia and are considered promising therapeutic targets in IBD. However, their relevance in the pathogenesis of CAC remains elusive. We induced CAC in Phd1–/–, Phd2+/–, Phd3–/–, and WT mice with azoxymethane (AOM) and dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). Phd1–/– mice were protected against chronic colitis and displayed diminished CAC growth compared with WT mice. In Phd3–/– mice, colitis activity and CAC growth remained unaltered. In Phd2+/– mice, colitis activity was unaffected, but CAC growth was aggravated. Mechanistically, Phd2 deficiency (i) increased the number of tumor-associated macrophages in AOM/DSS-induced tumors, (ii) promoted the expression of EGFR ligand epiregulin in macrophages, and (iii) augmented the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 and extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 signaling, which at least in part contributed to aggravated tumor cell proliferation in colitis-associated tumors. Consistently, Phd2 deficiency in hematopoietic (Vav:Cre-Phd2fl/fl) but not in intestinal epithelial cells (Villin:Cre-Phd2fl/fl) increased CAC growth. In conclusion, the 3 different PHD isoenzymes have distinct and nonredundant effects, promoting (PHD1), diminishing (PHD2), or neutral (PHD3), on CAC growth.


Kilian B. Kennel, Julius Burmeister, Praveen Radhakrishnan, Nathalia A. Giese, Thomas Giese, Martin Salfenmoser, Jasper M. Gebhardt, Moritz J. Strowitzki, Cormac T. Taylor, Ben Wielockx, Martin Schneider, Jonathan M. Harnoss


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