Inhibition of MK2 suppresses IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α-dependent colorectal cancer growth

Anita L. Ray, Kiersten L. Berggren, Sebastian Restrepo Cruz, Gregory N. Gan, Ellen J. Beswick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Colorectal cancer (CRC) development and progression is associated with chronic inflammation. We have identified the MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2) pathway as a primary mediator of inflammation in CRC. MK2 signaling promotes production of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α. These cytokines have been implicated in tumor growth, invasion and metastasis. For the first time, we investigate whether MK2 inhibition can improve outcome in two mouse models of CRC. In our azoxymethane/dextran sodium sulfate (AOM/DSS) model of colitis-associated CRC, MK2 inhibitor treatment eliminated murine tumor development. Using the implanted, syngeneic murine CRC cell line CT26, we observe significant tumor volume reduction following MK2 inhibition. Tumor cells treated with MK2 inhibitors produced 80% less IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α and demonstrated decreased invasion. Replenishment of downstream proinflammatory MK2-mediated cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α) to tumors led to restoration of tumor proliferation and rapid tumor regrowth. These results demonstrate the importance of MK2 in driving proinflammatory cytokine production, its relevance to in vivo tumor proliferation and invasion. Inhibition of MK2 may represent an attractive therapeutic target to suppress tumor growth and progression in patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1702-1711
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 UICC


  • MK2
  • colorectal cancer
  • cytokines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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