The incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) has increased significantly in the past decade. Early diagnosis and new therapeutics are still urgently needed for CRC in clinical practice. Human α-defensin 6 (HD6) plays a defense role against microbes in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the role and mechanism of HD6 in CRC is still unresolved. Specimens from CRC patients with higher HD6 showed better outcomes. Overexpressed HD6 in CRC cells caused a reduction of cell proliferative, migratory, and invasive ability in vitro and in vivo. HD6-overexpressed caused S phase arrest through changes in cyclin-A and B and CDK2 levels. In addition, serpine-1 may be negatively regulated by HD6 altering the translocation of c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK), extracellular regulated protein kinases (ERK), and p38. Higher HD6 and lower serpine-1 levels in CRC patients reflected better outcomes. Finally, we found that HD6 interacts directly with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by co-immunoprecipitated assay. EGF treatment caused an increase of the level of serpine-1 and pEGFR levels and then increased growth activity in HD6 overexpressing cells. Together, our study shows that HD6 may compete with EGF to bind to EGFR and interrupt cancer progression in CRC. We believe these findings may give new insights for HD6 in CRC therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Colon cancer
  • defensin6
  • EGF
  • EGFR
  • migration
  • progression
  • serpine-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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