Diabetes mellitus is associated with liver metastasis of colorectal cancer through production of biglycan-rich cancer stroma

Colorectal Cancer

Oncotarget. 2020 Aug 4;11(31):2982-2994. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.27674. eCollection 2020 Aug 4.


High morbidity and mortality of cancer, especially colorectal cancer (CRC), in diabetic patients have been reported. In this study, we investigated the relationship between the presence of diabetes mellitus (blood hemoglobin A1C was 6.5% or higher at the time of diagnosis of CRC) and the progression and liver metastasis of CRC. Histopathological findings in the primary lesions, which were preferential to diabetes-complicated CRC (DM-CRC) and the liver metastasis, were also investigated. Of the

473 CRC patients who underwent curative surgical resection, 148 (31%) had diabetes. In DM-CRC cases, the stage was more advanced, with more cases in stage IV or postoperative disease recurrence. Histopathological findings correlated with liver metastasis in DM-CRC, including budding grade, perineural invasion, and myxomatous tumor stroma, and all were highly correlated with the stage. Additionally, myxomatous stroma showed the strongest correlation with liver metastasis in multivariate analysis. Myxomatous stroma in stage III cases correlated with liver recurrence. The myxomatous stroma was abundant in biglycan protein and contained numerous CD90-positive mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In human colon cancer cell line HT29, biglycan expression was induced by high sugar concentration, fatty acids, and insulin, and its contact co-culture with MSCs resulted in enhanced stemness and epithelial-mesenchymal transition phenotype. Thus, DM-CRC has higher malignant phenotypes compared to non-DM-CRC, and the involvement of diabetes-induced biglycan may act as a pathogenic factor.