by Sandeep Kadekar, Ilona Silins, Anna Korhonen, Kristian Dreij, Lauy Al-Anati, Johan Högberg, Ulla Stenius
Exocrine pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease with an exceptionally high mortality rate. Genetic analysis suggests a causative role for environmental factors, but consistent epidemiological support is scarce and no biomarkers for monitoring the effects of chemical pancreatic carcinogens are available. With the objective to identify common traits for chemicals inducing pancreatic tumors we studied the National Toxicology Program (NTP) bioassay database. We found that male rats were affected more often than female rats and identified eight chemicals that induced exocrine pancreatic tumors in males only. For a hypothesis generating process we used a text mining tool to analyse published literature for suggested mode of actions (MOA). The resulting MOA analysis suggested inflammatory responses as common feature. In cell studies we found that all the chemicals increased protein levels of the inflammatory protein autotaxin (ATX) in Panc-1, MIA PaCa-2 or Capan-2 cells. Induction of MMP-9 and increased invasive migration were also frequent effects, consistent with ATX activation. Testosterone has previously been implicated in pancreatic carcinogenesis and we found that it increased ATX levels. Our data show that ATX is a target for chemicals inducing pancreatic tumors in rats. Several lines of evidence implicate ATX and its product lysophosphatidic acid in human pancreatic cancer. Mechanisms of action may include stimulated invasive growth and metastasis. ATX may interact with hormones or onco- or suppressor-genes often deregulated in exocrine pancreatic cancer. Our data suggest that ATX is a target for chemicals promoting pancreatic tumor development.