Background & Aims: Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) has been shown to be implicated in tumor development and progression. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of CTGF in progression of colorectal cancer (CRC). Methods: Immunohistochemical staining of specimens from 119 patients with CRC was performed. Liposome-mediated transfection was used to introduce a CTGF expression vector into CRC cell lines. Transfectants were tested in invasive ability and experimental hepatic metastasis in BALB/c mice. Furthermore, a FOPflash/TOPflash reporter assay was performed to investigate CTGF on the β-catenin/T-cell factor signaling pathway. Results: Patients with stage II and stage III CRC whose tumors displayed high CTGF expression had a significantly higher overall survival and a disease-free advantage over patients with CRC with low CTGF expression. Alterations in the CTGF level in CRC cell lines modulated their invasive ability with an inverse correlation. In addition, a reduction in the CTGF level of CT26 cells after stable transfection with antisense CTGF resulted in increased liver metastasis in BALB/c mice. The activity of the β-catenin/T-cell factor signaling pathway and its downstream effector gene matrix metalloproteinase 7 in these CTGF-transfected cells was strongly attenuated. Blockage of matrix metalloproteinase 7 with its neutralizing antibodies inhibited increased invasiveness in antisense CTGF-transfected CT26 cells. Conclusions: Our results implicate CTGF as a key regulator of CRC invasion and metastasis, and it appears to be a useful and better prognosis factor for patients with stage II and stage III CRC.
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