Dietary heme induces acute oxidative stress, but delayed cytotoxicity and compensatory hyperproliferation in mouse colon

Noortje Ijssennagger, Anneke Rijnierse, Nicole J W de Wit, Mark V Boekschoten, Jan Dekker, Arjan Schonewille, Michael Müller, Roelof van der Meer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Red meat consumption is associated with an increased colon cancer risk. Heme, present in red meat, injures the colon surface epithelium by generating cytotoxic and oxidative stress. Recently, we found that this surface injury is compensated by hyperproliferation and hyperplasia of crypt cells, which was induced by a changed surface to crypt signaling. It is unknown whether this changed signaling is caused by cytotoxic stress and/or oxidative stress, as these processes were never studied separately. The aim of this study was to determine the possible differential effects of dietary heme on these luminal stressors and their impact on the colonic mucosa after 2, 4, 7 and 14 days of heme feeding. Mice received a purified, humanized, control diet or the diet supplemented with 0.2 µmol heme/g. Oxidative and cytotoxic stress were measured in fecal water. Proliferation was determined by Ki67-immunohistochemistry and mucosal responses by whole-genome transcriptomics. After heme ingestion, there was an acute increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) leading to increased levels of lipid peroxidation products. Mucosal gene expression showed an acute antioxidant response, but no change in cell turnover. After day 4, cytotoxicity of the colonic contents was increased and this coincided with differential signaling and hyperproliferation, indicating that cytotoxicity was the causal factor. Simultaneously, several oncogenes were activated, whereas the tumor suppressor p53 was inhibited. In conclusion, luminal cytotoxicity, but not ROS, caused differential surface to crypt signaling resulting in mucosal hyperproliferation and the differential expression of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1628-1635
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colon
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Feces
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Heme
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Time Factors
  • Transcriptome

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