High-fat diet feeding and palmitic acid increase CRC growth in β2AR-dependent manner

Sarwat Fatima, Xianjing Hu, Chunhua Huang, Weixiong Zhang, Jing Cai, Min Huang, Rui Hong Gong, Minting Chen, Alan H. M. Ho, Tao Su, Hoi Leong Xavier Wong, Zhaoxiang Bian*, Hiu Yee Kwan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Epidemiology studies indicate that consumption of high-fat diet (HFD) is directly associated with the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the exact component in HFD and the mechanism underlying its effect on CRC growth remained unclear. Our study shows that HFD feeding increases β2AR expression in the xenograft tissues of CRC-bearing mouse model; the elevated β2AR expression is reduced when HFD is replaced by control diet, which strongly suggests an association between HFD feeding and β2AR expression in CRC. HFD feeding increases palmitic acid and stearic acid levels in CRC; however, only palmitic acid increases β2AR expression, which is dependent upon Sp1. β2AR plays the dominant role in promoting CRC cell proliferation among all the β-AR subtypes. More importantly, knockout of β2AR or knockdown of Sp1 abolishes the palmitic acid increased CRC cell proliferation, suggesting palmitic acid increases CRC cell proliferation in β2AR-dependent manner. HFD or palmitic acid-rich diet (PAD) also fails to increase the tumor growth in xenograft mouse models bearing β2AR-knockout CRC cells. β2AR promotes CRC growth by increasing the phosphorylation of HSL at the residue S552. The phosphorylated and activated HSL (S552) changes the metabolic phenotype of CRC and increases energy production, which promotes CRC growth. Our study has revealed the unique tumorigenic properties of palmitic acid in promoting CRC growth, and have delineated the underlying mechanism of action. We are also the first to report the linkage between HFD feeding and β-adrenergic signaling pathway in relation to CRC growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number711
JournalCell Death and Disease
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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