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Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) is the rate-limiting enzyme for polyamine biosynthesis and restricts M1 macrophage activation in gastrointestinal (GI) infections. However, the role of macrophage ODC in colonic epithelial-driven inflammation is unknown. Here, we investigate cell-specific effects of ODC in colitis and colitis-associated carcinogenesis (CAC). Human colonic macrophages expressed increased ODC levels in active ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, colitis-associated dysplasia, and CAC. Mice lacking in myeloid cells ( mice) that were treated with dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) exhibited improved survival, body weight, and colon length and reduced histologic injury versus control mice. In contrast, GI epithelial-specific knockout had no effect on clinical parameters. Despite reduced histologic damage, colitis tissues of mice had increased levels of multiple proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines and enhanced expression of M1, but not M2 markers. In the azoxymethane-DSS model of CAC, mice had reduced tumor number, burden, and high-grade dysplasia. Tumors from mice had increased M1, but not M2 macrophages. Increased levels of histone 3, lysine 9 acetylation, a marker of open chromatin, were manifest in tumor macrophages of mice, consistent with our findings that macrophage ODC affects histone modifications that upregulate M1 gene transcription during GI infections. These findings support the concept that macrophage ODC augments epithelial injury-associated colitis and CAC by impairing the M1 responses that stimulate epithelial repair, antimicrobial defense, and antitumoral immunity. They also suggest that macrophage ODC is an important target for colon cancer chemoprevention. Ornithine decarboxylase contributes to the pathogenesis of colitis and associated carcinogenesis by impairing M1 macrophage responses needed for antitumoral immunity; targeting ODC in macrophages may represent a new strategy for chemoprevention. .
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.