Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), a pleiotropic protein expressed by healthy intestinal epithelial cells, functions as an inhibitor of NF-κB and neutrophil proteases and exerts antimicrobial activity. We previously showed SLPI suppresses intestinal epithelial chemokine production in response to microbial contact. Increased SLPI expression was recently detected in various types of carcinoma. In addition, accumulating evidence indicates SLPI expression is favorable for tumor cells. In view of these findings and the abundance of SLPI in the colonic epithelium, we hypothesized SLPI promotes colorectal cancer (CRC) growth and metastasis. Here, we aimed to establish whether SLPI expression in CRC is related to clinical outcome. Using a cohort of 507 patients with CRC who underwent resection of liver metastases, we show that high SLPI protein expression in both liver metastases and primary CRC is associated with significantly shorter overall survival after resection of liver metastases. The prognostic value of SLPI in CRC patients with liver metastases implies a role for SLPI in the formation of metastasis of human CRC. Based on the immune regulatory functions of SLPI, we anticipate that expression of SLPI provides tumors with a mechanism to evade infiltration by immune cells.

SLPI, colorectal cancer, liver metastases, intestine,
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Nugteren, S., Goos, J., Delis-van Diemen, P.M., Simons-Oosterhuis, Y., Lindenbergh, D, van Haaften, D.H., … Samsom, J.N. (2020). Expression of the immune modulator secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) in colorectal cancer liver metastases and matched primary tumors is associated with a poorer prognosis. OncoImmunology, 9(1). doi:10.1080/2162402x.2020.1832761