Hemin, a major heme molecule, induced cellular and genetic alterations in normal colonic and colon cancer cells

Sujani Madhurika Kodagoda Gamage, Tracie Cheng, Katherine Ting Wei Lee, Lakal Dissabandara, Alfred King Yin Lam*, Vinod Gopalan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Heme, a molecule abundant in red meat, is assumed to exert carcinogenic effects on normal colonic cells and tumour suppressive effects on cancer cells, though the hypothesis has not been explicitly proven yet. The present study aims to investigate hemin induced cytotoxic, genetic and biological alterations in both normal and cancerous colonic epithelial cells, which may imply its carcinogenic and anticarcinogenic properties. Normal colonic epithelial cells and colon carcinoma cells were treated with a 0–500 µM concentration of hemin for 1–4 days following which cytotoxicity and wound healing assays, western blot, rt-PCR and cell cycle analysis were performed. Interestingly, hemin was cytotoxic to normal colonic cells, but carcinoma cells were more resistant. Cell migration potential of both normal colonic cells and colon carcinoma cells was impeded by hemin. Hemin caused upregulation of both P53 and β-catenin gene and proteins expression in normal colonic cells with concomitant cell cycle arrest at G1(Gap 1) and G2/M (Gap 2/ Mitosis). G1 and G2 cell cycle arrests were also observed in colon carcinoma cells. In conclusion, the present study confirms that hemin, a main heme molecule present in red meat, facilitates behavioural, genetic and cell cycle kinetic alterations in both normal colonic epithelial and colon carcinoma cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153530
JournalPathology Research and Practice
Early online date29 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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