The peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) has been implicated in growth control of various tumour models. Although colorectal cancers were found to overexpress PBR, the functional role of PBR in colorectal cancer growth has not been addressed to date. Using primary cell cultures of human colorectal cancers and the human colorectal carcinoma cell lines HT29, LS174T, and Colo320 DM we studied the involvement of PBR in the growth control and apoptosis of colorectal cancers. Both mRNA and protein expression of PBR were detected by RT-PCR and flow cytometry. Using confocal laser scanning microscopy and immunohistochemistry the PBR was localized in the mitochondria. The specific PBR ligands FGIN-1-27, PK 11195, or Ro5-4864 inhibited cell proliferation dose-dependently. FGIN-1-27 decreased the mitochondrial membrane potential, which indicates an early event in apoptosis. Furthermore, FGIN-1-27, PK 11195 or Ro5-4864 increased caspase-3 activity. In addition to their apoptosis-inducing effects, PBR ligands induced cell cycle arrest in the G1G0-phase. Thus, our data demonstrate a functional involvement of PBR in colorectal cancer growth and qualify the PBR as a possible target for innovative therapeutic approaches in colorectal cancer.
- Cell cycle
- Cell proliferation
- Colorectal cancer
- Peripheral benzodiazepine receptor