APC/β-catenin pathway perturbation is a common early event in colorectal carcinogenesis and is affected by calcium and vitamin D in basic science studies. To assess the effects of calcium and vitamin D on adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), β-catenin, and E-cadherin expression in the normal appearing colorectal mucosa of sporadic colorectal adenoma patients, we conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled 2 x 2 factorial clinical trial. Pathology-confirmed colorectal adenoma cases were treated with 2 g/day elemental calcium and/or 800 IU/day vitamin D3 versus placebo over 6 months (N = 92; 23/group). Overall APC, β-catenin, and E-cadherin expression and distributions in colon crypts in normal-appearing rectal mucosa biopsies were detected by standardized automated immunohistochemistry and quantified by image analysis. In the vitamin D3-supplemented group relative to placebo, the proportion of APC in the upper 40% of crypts (Φh APC) increased 21% (P = 0.01), β-catenin decreased 12% (P = 0.18), E-cadherin increased 72% (P = 0.03), and the Φh APC/β-catenin ratio (APC/β-catenin score) increased 31% (P = 0.02). In the calcium-supplemented group Φh APC increased10%(P = 0.12), β-catenin decreased 15% (P = 0.08), and the APC/β-catenin score increased 41% (P = 0.01). In the calcium/vitamin D3-supplemented group, β-catenin decreased 11% (P = 0.20), E-cadherin increased 51% (P = 0.08), and the APC/β-catenin score increased 16% (P = 0.26). These results support (i) that calcium and vitamin Dmodify APC, β-catenin, and E-cadherin expression in humans in directions hypothesized to reduce risk for colorectal neoplasms, (ii) calcium and vitamin D as potential chemopreventive agents against colorectal neoplasms, and (iii) the potential of APC, β-catenin, and E-cadherin expression as modifiable, preneoplastic risk biomarkers for colorectal neoplasms.
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