Gene expression responses reflecting 5-FU-induced toxicity: Comparison between patient colon tissue and 3D human colon organoids

Daniela Rodrigues*, Roel van Kampen, Ad A van Bodegraven, Jos C S Kleinjans, Danyel G J Jennen, Theo M de Kok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Capecitabine is a chemotherapeutic drug that is widely used as a monotherapy option in advanced cancer patients. After administration, it is converted into its active metabolite 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a cytotoxic compound that may also induce adverse side effects in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although these side effects can interfere with the continuation of the chemotherapy, diagnostic tools to detect early onset and prevention strategies are not available. In this explorative case study, we aim to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) that provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of toxicity induced by 5-FU in healthy colon tissue of breast cancer patients receiving capecitabine. Gene expression responses observed in patients were compared with those established in an in vitro model of healthy colon organoids. Colon biopsies from two patients with advanced breast cancer were collected before and after the treatment with capecitabine and used for RNA sequencing to determine transcriptomic responses. Differential expression analysis resulted in 31 affected genes, showing that the most affected pathways were transport of small molecules, cellular responses to stress, folate metabolism, NF-kB signalling pathway and immune system responses. The most biologically relevant genes were haemoglobin subunits encoding genes, involved in several processes; ATP12A, SLC26A3 and AQP8, involved in the transport of ions and water; TRIM31, a regulator of NF-kB signalling pathway; MST1P2 and MST1L, stimulators of macrophages. Comparison of human in vitro and in vivo responses showed that the gene expression of TRIM31 was similarly altered in the colon organoids exposed to 5-FU. Therefore, this gene constitutes a potential biomarker of colon toxicity that might be used in future in vitro drug safety design and screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology Letters
Early online date29 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


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