Background and Objectives: Interleukin (IL)-1α and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) play an important role in pancreatic cancer proliferation, angiogenesis, and invasiveness. The aim of this study was to investigate the cooperative role of HGF and IL-1α in metastatic processes promoted by interactions between pancreatic cancer cells and stromal cells. Methods: Expression of IL-1α and HGF mRNA and protein was determined by RT-PCR and ELISA. The effect of HGF on metastatic potential was evaluated by proliferation, invasion, and angiogenesis assays using an in vitro system consisting of co-cultured tumor cells and stromal cells. Results: IL-1α expression was closely correlated with metastatic potential, and cancer cell-derived IL-1α significantly promoted HGF expression by fibroblasts (P < 0.01). HGF not only enhanced the invasiveness and proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells, but also enhanced migration and proliferation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). HGF significantly enhanced HUVEC tube formation (P < 0.01). Furthermore, the high liver-metastatic pancreatic cancer cell line (BxPC-3), which secretes IL-1α, significantly enhanced HUVEC tube formation compared with the low liver-metastatic cell line (Capan-2), which does not produce IL-1α (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Autocrine IL-1α and paracrine HGF co-enhance the metastatic potential of pancreatic cancer cells via both IL-1α and HGF signaling pathways.
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