The multifunctional growth factor midkine promotes proliferation and migration in pancreatic cancer


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a devastating prognosis among solid tumors and despite increased knowledge of the molecular mechanisms contributing to progression and metastasis, minimal progress has been done in establishing new targeted therapies for this deadly disease. The expression of the multifunctional growth/differentiation factor midkine (MK) promotes a variety of cellular functions leading to increased angiogenesis, proliferation, migration, and survival. Moreover, MK is intensively discussed as a potential new-therapy target and as biomarker for cancer progression and chemotherapeutic resistance in multiple cancers. Therefore, the present study investigated the molecular role of MK in pancreatic cancer. It was found that MK is elevated in PDAC and differentially expressed in other histologic subtypes of pancreatic cancer, whereas normal pancreatic cells did not express MK, thus making it an attractive candidate for targeted therapies. As a secreted growth/differentiation factor, MK was investigated as a biomarker in clinical serum specimens using ELISA. In addition, knockdown studies of MK revealed a link to proliferation and migration status in vitro. Finally, upstream signaling pathways were analyzed, with TNF-α and EGF being the main inductors of MK expression in PDAC. Implications: This study presents novel MK functions and new upstream signaling effectors that induce its expression to promote PDAC and therefore defines an attractive new therapeutic target in pancreatic cancer. Mol Cancer Res; 12(5); 670-80. ©2014 AACR.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01.05.2014
PubMed 24567526