Research Papers:

Mifepristone inhibits ovarian cancer metastasis by intervening in SDF-1/CXCR4 chemokine axis

Ning Zheng, Jiahang Chen, Weiqun Liu, Jian Liu, Tao Li, Hongning Chen, Jichuang Wang and Lee Jia _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:59123-59135. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19289

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Ning Zheng1,2, Jiahang Chen1,2, Weiqun Liu1,2, Jian Liu1,2, Tao Li1,2, Hongning Chen1,2, Jichuang Wang3 and Lee Jia1,2

1Cancer Metastasis Alert and Prevention Center, and Biopharmaceutical Photocatalysis, State Key Laboratory of Photocatalysis on Energy and Environment, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350002, China

2Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Cancer Metastasis Chemoprevention and Chemotherapy, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350002, China

3Fujian Key Laboratory for Translational Research in Cancer and Neurodegenerative Diseases, Institute for Translational Medicine, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou 350108, China

Correspondence to:

Lee Jia, email: [email protected], [email protected]

Keywords: mifepristone (RU486), the SDF-1/CXCR4 chemokine axis, ovarian cancer, cancer metastasis, actin polymerization

Received: October 27, 2016    Accepted: June 29, 2017    Published: July 17, 2017


SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling axis determines the proliferative potential and site-specific cancer metastasis. Recent studies suggest involvement of the axis and steroidal hormone in ovarian cancer metastasis. Here we hypothesize that mifepristone (RU486), a well-known progesterone-based abortifacient, might interfere this axis and inhibit ovarian cancer metastasis. Mifepristone at concentrations < IC50 inhibited expression of CXCR4 on cell surface of ovarian cancer SKOV-3 and IGROV-1, and reduced expression of the intracellular CXCR4 protein and its related mRNA activated by SDF-1. SDF-1 significantly stimulated proliferation of SKOV-3 and IGROV-1 cells with concomitant increases in intracellular phosphorylation of Akt and ERK. SDF-1 activated cell chemotatic migration and actin polymerization, and up-regulated expression of MMP-2, MMP-9, COX-2, VEGF without influencing the adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and integrins β1, α1, α3, α5, and α6. The above-mentioned effects of SDF-1 could be antagonized by mifepristone concentration-dependently, and CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100. Mifepristone suppressed the SDF-1-induced migration, invasion and adhesion of the cancer cells to extracellular matrixes. Three-day pretreatment of nude mice with mifepristone (5 and 20 mg/kg/day) followed by a single intraperitoneal IGROV-1 inoculation, along with repeated SDF-1 and mifepristone administrations in turn every other day for 36 days significantly reduced ascitic fluid, metastatic foci, tumor weight and immunoreactivity of CXCR4 in comparison with the SDF-1-treated control. Our results suggest that mifepristone inhibit SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling axis, may have preventive and therapeutic effects on ovarian cancer metastasis.

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