Hepatic thermal injury promotes colorectal cancer engraftment in C57/black 6 mice

Alison L. Halpern, J. Gregory Fitz, Yuki Fujiwara, Jeniann Yi, Aimee L. Anderson, Yuwen Zhu, Richard D. Schulick, Karim C. El Kasmi, Carlton C. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Treatment options for liver metastases (primarily colorectal cancer) are limited by high recurrence rates and persistent tumor progression. Surgical approaches to management of these metastases typically use heat energy including electrocautery, argon beam coagulation, thermal ablation of surgical margins for hemostasis, and preemptive thermal ablation to prevent bleeding or to effect tumor destruction. Based on high rates of local recurrence, these studies assess whether local effects of hepatic thermal injury (HTI) might contribute to poor outcomes by promoting a hepatic microenvironment favorable for tumor engraftment or progression due to induction of procancer cytokines and deleterious immune infiltrates at the site of thermal injury. To test this hypothesis, an immunocompetent mouse model was developed wherein HTI was combined with concomitant intrasplenic injection of cells from a well-characterized MC38 colon carcinoma cell line. In this model, HTI resulted in a significant increase in engraftment and progression of MC38 tumors at the site of thermal injury. Furthermore, there were local increases in expression of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) for hypoxia-inducible factor-1a (HIF1a), arginase-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor a and activation changes in recruited macrophages at the HTI site but not in untreated liver tissue. Inhibition of HIF1a following HTI significantly reduced discreet hepatic tumor development (P = 0.03). Taken together, these findings demonstrate that HTI creates a favorable local environment that is associated with protumorigenic activation of macrophages and implantation of circulating tumors. Discrete targeting of HIF1a signaling or inhibiting macrophages offers potential strategies for improving the outcome of surgical management of hepatic metastases where HTI is used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C142-C151
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Hepatic metastases
  • Hepatic thermal injury
  • Hypoxia-inducible factor-1a
  • Tumorigenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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