NDRG4 When you get on the gut’s nerves

Nathalie Vaes

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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Despite improved early detection and treatment options, colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. I discovered that NDRG4, an established biomarker for the early detection of CRC (Cologuard®) is specifically expressed in the gut’s intrinsic nervous system: enteric nervous system (ENS). While defects in the ENS have been implicated in life-threatening conditions, its contribution to CRC is hardly studied. This is remarkable as cells in the “tumor microenvironment” can contribute to (colorectal) carcinogenesis. I uncovered that NDRG4 affects ENS development and GI-functioning. Moreover, loss of NDRG4 enhanced colorectal tumorigenesis by the increased release of soluble factors. These findings implicate that the ENS is an new member of the (tumor) microenvironment which opens new perspectives for the development of clinical applications (biomarkers and/or treatment) for GI-disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • van Engeland, Manon, Supervisor
  • Hofstra, R., Supervisor, External person
  • Melotte, Veerle, Co-Supervisor
Award date27 Sept 2019
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789463804769
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Colorectal cancer
  • enteric nervous system
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • N-Myc Downstream-Regulated Gene 4 (NDRG4)

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