Inhibition of the proliferation and invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma cells by lipocalin 2 through blockade of JNK and PI3K/Akt signaling

Eun-Kyoung Lee, Hyun-Jun Kim, Kong-Ju Lee, Ho-Jeong Lee, Ju-Seog Lee, Dae-Ghon Kim, Soon-Won Hong, Yeup Yoon, Jang-Seong Kim
International Journal of Oncology 2011, 38 (2): 325-33
Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2) has been reported to induce cellular proliferation based on its expression in a variety of proliferative cells. Consistent with these findings, the present study demonstrates a significant increase in Lcn2 levels in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues compared with non-tumor liver tissues. However, the role of Lcn2 in hepatocarcinogenesis is far from clear. To investigate the effects of Lcn2 expression on hepatocarcinogenesis, Chang liver and SK-Hep1 HCC cell lines were genetically manipulated to express Lcn2, and the effects on the proliferation and invasion of HCC cells were analyzed. Ectopic expression of Lcn2 in HCC cells significantly inhibited the growth of HCC cells in vitro and in vivo, reduced the invasive potential of cells, and inhibited the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2). Lcn2 may exert its function partly through the inhibition of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and phospha-tidyl inositol 3'-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathways in HCC cells. The selective inhibition of these pathways using pharmacological inhibitors significantly inhibited proliferation, invasion and MMP-2 expression, whereas Lcn2 expression suppressed the JNK and PI3K/Akt pathways. Collectively, these results clearly indicate that Lcn2 may play a protective role against the progression of HCCs by suppressing cell proliferation and invasion. The clinical significance of the present findings should be evaluated further.

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