Targeting Cancer-Related Inflammation: Chinese Herbal Medicine Inhibits Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in Pancreatic Cancer

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Targeting Cancer-Related Inflammation: Chinese Herbal Medicine Inhibits Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in Pancreatic Cancer

Authors
  • Juan Zhang
  • Peng Wang
  • Huaqiang Ouyang
  • Jianhua Yin
  • Aihua Liu
  • Chunzheng Ma
  • Luming Liu
  • Fabrizio Mattei
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Volume
8
Issue
7
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070334
Keywords

Abstract

Pancreatic cancer is an almost universally fatal disease resulting from early invasion of adjacent structures and metastasis and the lack of an effective treatment modality. Our previous studies have shown that Qingyihuaji Formula (QYHJ), a seven-herb Chinese medicine formula, had significant anti-cancer effects in pancreatic cancer. Here, we examined the effects of QYHJ on pancreatic cancer cell invasion and metastasis and the potential associated mechanism(s). We found that QYHJ inhibited both tumor growth and metastasis in nude mice with human pancreatic cancer cell xenografts. Further study indicated that QYHJ inhibited epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is characterized by increased E-cadherin expression and decreased vimentin, N-cadherin and Slug expression. Interleukin 6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced mainly by macrophages, could promote cancer cell EMT and invasion. In contrast, treatment with QYHJ inhibited cancer-related inflammation in tumors by decreasing infiltration of tumor-associated macrophages and IL-6 production, thus preventing cell invasion and metastasis. These results suggested that the Chinese herbal medicine QYHJ could inhibit pancreatic cancer cell invasion and metastasis in part by reversing tumor-supporting inflammation.

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