BACKGROUND - Persistent activation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) is commonly detected in many types of cancer, including colon cancer. To date, whether STAT3 is activated and the effects of STAT3 inhibition by a newly developed curcumin analogue, GO-Y030, in colon cancer stem cells are still unknown.
METHODS - Flow cytometry was used to isolate colon cancer stem cells, which are characterised by both aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)-positive and CD133-positive subpopulations (ALDH(+)/CD133(+)). The levels of STAT3 phosphorylation and the effects of STAT3 inhibition by a newly developed curcumin analogue, GO-Y030, that targets STAT3 in colon cancer stem cells were examined.
RESULTS - Our results observed that ALDH(+)/CD133(+) colon cancer cells expressed higher levels of phosphorylated STAT3 than ALDH-negative/CD133-negative colon cancer cells, suggesting that STAT3 is activated in colon cancer stem cells. GO-Y030 and curcumin inhibited STAT3 phosphorylation, cell viability, tumoursphere formation in colon cancer stem cells. GO-Y030 also reduced STAT3 downstream target gene expression and induced apoptosis in colon cancer stem cells. Furthermore, GO-Y030 suppressed tumour growth of cancer stem cells from both SW480 and HCT-116 colon cancer cell lines in the mouse model.
CONCLUSION - Our results indicate that STAT3 is a novel therapeutic target in colon cancer stem cells, and inhibition of activated STAT3 in cancer stem cells by GO-Y030 may offer an effective treatment for colorectal cancer.