Unmasking the interplay between mTOR and Nox4: novel insights into the mechanism connecting diabetes and cancer

Fatima Mohsen Mroueh, Mohamed Noureldein, Youssef H. Zeidan, Suzan Boutary, Sara Abou Merhi Irani, Stéphanie Eid, Mary Haddad, Rasha Barakat, Frederic Harb, Joseph Costantine, Rouwaida Kanj, Erik André Sauleau, Allal Ouhtit, Sami T. Azar, Ali H. Eid, Assaad A. Eid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer was recently annexed to diabetic complications. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that cancer can increase the risk of diabetes. Consequently, diabetes and cancer share many risk factors, but the cellular and molecular pathways correlating diabetes and colon and rectal cancer (CRC) remain far from understood. In this study, we assess the effect of hyperglycemia on cancer cell aggressiveness in human colon epithelial adenocarcinoma cells in vitro and in an experimental animal model of CRC. Our results show that Nox (NADPH oxidase enzyme) 4-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is deregulated in both diabetes and CRC. This is paralleled by inactivation of the AMPK and activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) C1 signaling pathways, resulting in 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) accumulation, induction of DNA damage, and exacerbation of cancer cell aggressiveness, thus contributing to the genomic instability and predisposition to increased tumorigenesis in the diabetic milieu. Pharmacologic activation of AMPK, inhibition of mTORC1, or blockade of Nox4 reduce ROS production, restore the homeostatic signaling of 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase/8-oxodG, and lessen the progression of CRC malignancy in a diabetic milieu. Taken together, our results identify the AMPK/mTORC1/Nox4 signaling axis as a molecular switch correlating diabetes and CRC. Modulating this pathway may be a strategic target of therapeutic potential aimed at reversing or slowing the progression of CRC in patients with or without diabetes.-Mroueh, F. M., Noureldein, M., Zeidan, Y. H., Boutary, S., Irani, S. A. M., Eid, S., Haddad, M., Barakat, R., Harb, F., Costantine, J., Kanj, R., Sauleau, E.-A., Ouhtit, A., Azar, S. T., Eid, A. H., Eid, A. A. Unmasking the interplay between mTOR and Nox4: novel insights into the mechanism connecting diabetes and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14051-14066
Number of pages16
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • colorectal cancer
  • DNA damage
  • mTORC1
  • NADPH oxidases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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