Thyroid hormone status has long been implicated in cancer development. Here we investigated the role of thyroxine (T4) in colorectal cancer cell lines HCT 116 (APC wild type) and HT-29 (APC mutant), as well as the primary cultures of cancer cells derived from patients. Cell proliferation was evaluated with standard assay and proliferation marker expression. β-Catenin activation was examined according to nuclear β-catenin accumulation and β-catenin target gene expression. The results showed that T4 increased colorectal cancer cell proliferation while cell number and viability were elevated by T4 in both established cell lines and primary cells. Moreover, the transcriptions of proliferative genes PCNA, CCND1, and c-Myc were enhanced by T4 in the primary cells. T4 induced nuclear β-catenin accumulation, as well as high cyclin D1 and c-Myc levels compared to the untreated cells. In addition, the β-catenin-directed transactivation of CCND1 and c-Myc promoters was also upregulated by T4. CTNNB1 transcription was raised by T4 in HCT 116, but not in HT-29, while the boosted β-catenin levels were observed in both. Lastly, the T4-mediated gene expression could be averted by the knockdown of β-catenin. These results suggested that T4 promotes β-catenin activation and cell proliferation in colorectal cancer, indicating that an applicable therapeutic strategy should be considered.
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