Research Papers:

Leptin signaling enhances cell invasion and promotes the metastasis of human pancreatic cancer via increasing MMP-13 production

Yingchao Fan, Yu Gan, Yuling Shen, Xiaojin Cai, Yanfang Song, Fangyu Zhao, Ming Yao, Jianren Gu and Hong Tu _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:16120-16134. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3878

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Yingchao Fan1,*, Yu Gan1,*, Yuling Shen1,2, Xiaojin Cai1, Yanfang Song1, Fangyu Zhao1, Ming Yao1, Jianren Gu1 and Hong Tu1

1 State Key Laboratory of Oncogenes and Related Genes, Shanghai Cancer Institute, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

2 Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Hong Tu, email:

Keywords: leptin, metastasis, MMP-13, Ob-Rb, pancreatic cancer

Received: January 26, 2015 Accepted: March 31, 2015 Published: April 19, 2015


Emerging evidence has suggested that leptin, an adipokine related to energy homeostasis, plays a role in cancer growth and metastasis. However, its impact on pancreatic cancer is rarely studied. In this study, we found that leptin’s functional receptor Ob-Rb was expressed in pancreatic cancer cell lines. Treatment with leptin enhanced the migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells but did not affect the proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cells. Leptin up-regulated the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) via the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway. The overexpression of leptin was shown to significantly promote tumor growth and lymph node metastasis in a subcutaneous model and an orthotopic model of human pancreatic cancer, respectively. Furthermore, in human pancreatic cancer tissues, the expression of Ob-Rb was positively correlated with the MMP-13 level. The increased expression of either Ob-Rb or MMP-13 was significantly associated with lymph node metastasis and tended to be associated with the TNM stage in patients with pancreatic cancer. Our findings suggest that leptin enhances the invasion of pancreatic cancer through the increase in MMP-13 production, and targeting the leptin/MMP-13 axis could be an attractive therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer.

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