Oxidized low-density lipoprotein links hypercholesterolemia and bladder cancer aggressiveness by promoting cancer stemness

Document Type


Publication Date



Hypercholesterolemia is a prevalent metabolic disorder that has been implicated in the development of steroid-targeted cancers. However, the link between hypercholesterolemia and urinary bladder cancer (UBC), a non-steroid-targeted cancer, remains unresolved. Here we show that diet- and Ldlr deficiency-induced hypercholesterolemia enhances both UBC stemness and progression. Inhibition of intestinal cholesterol absorption by Ezetimibe reversed diet-induced hypercholesterolemia and cancer stemness. As a key component in hypercholesterolemic sera, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL), but not native low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol or metabolite 27-hydroxycholesterol, increased cancer stemness through its receptor CD36. Depletion of CD36, ectopic expression of an ox-LDL binding-disabled mutant form of CD36(K164A), and the neutralization of ox-LDL and CD36 via neutralizing antibodies all reversed ox-LDL-induced cancer stemness. Mechanistically, ox-LDL enhanced the interaction of CD36 and JAK2, inducing phosphorylation of JAK2 and subsequently activating STAT3 signaling, which was not mediated by JAK1 or Src in UBC cells. Finally, ox-LDL levels in serum predicted poor prognosis, and the ox-LDLhigh signature predicted worse survival in UBC patients. These findings indicate that ox-LDL links hypercholesterolemia with UBC progression by enhancing cancer stemness. Lowering serum ox-LDL or targeting the CD36/JAK2/STAT3 axis might serve as a potential therapeutic strategy for UBCs with hypercholesterolemia. Moreover, elevated ox-LDL may serve as a biomarker for UBC.

Publication Title

Cancer Research

PubMed ID



This article was published in Cancer Research.

The published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.can-21-0646.

Copyright © 2021 American Association for Cancer Research.

This document is currently not available here.