Betacellulin (BTC) was identified in mouse pancreatic beta cell tumors as a member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, and was found to bind and activate the EGF receptor. BTC is also expressed in some human malignancies and may have an important role in tumor growth progression. We examined whether BTC and EGF have a growth stimulatory effect on human pancreatic cancer cell lines both in vitro and in vivo. We also investigated the BTC expression and autonomous induction of BTC in pancreatic cancer cells. in vitro, both BTC and EGF had almost the same proliferative effect on Panc-1, MIA PaCa-2 and AsPC-1. in vivo, in a Panc-1 inoculated athymic mice model, BTC-treated tumors grew approximately five times larger than in control. Immunocytochemistry showed that BTC expression occurred in three pancreatic cancer cell lines, with MIA PaCa-2 showing the strongest intensity. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR of MIA Paca-2 showed that mRNA levels of BTC gradually increased after treatment with 1 nM BTC. Immunocytochemistry also demonstrated that the intensity of BTC-like immunoreactivity was increased when treated with 1 nM BTC but was reduced after treatment with 100 nM of AG1478, an EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor. BTC has thus a significant growth stimulatory effect on pancreatic cancer cells and might function as an autocrine and paracrine growth factor. BTC expression in pancreatic cancer cells is, at least in part, controlled by an auto-induction mechanism.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research