Melittin inhibits tumor growth and decreases resistance to gemcitabine by downregulating cholesterol pathway gene CLU in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
Cancer Lett. 2017 Jul 28 ;399:1-9. Epub 2017 Apr 17. PMID: 28428074
Melittin is a Chinese traditional medicine for treating chronic inflammation, immunological diseases and cancers, however, the efficacy of melittin and its mechanism for treating pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are still unknown. Here we investigated the anti-cancer activity of melittin and its regulated mechanism(s) in the PDAC models. Melittin was found to suppress tumor growth by promoting cell apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest. Interestingly, the microarray analyses demonstrated that melittin significantly regulated cholesterol biosynthesis pathway during treatment. For instance, the cholesterol pathway gene clusterin (CLU) was highly downregulated by melittin which also enhanced gemcitabine sensitivity in PDAC cells by inhibiting CLU expression. In contrast, overexpression of CLU significantly diminished melittin mediated tumor suppression and gemcitabine sensitization, suggesting that CLU is the target of melittin. Furthermore, in the xenograft mouse model, the combination therapy of melittin and gemcitabine is more efficacious for inhibiting PDAC tumor growth than either single regimen. Taken together, our study has indicated that melittin is capable of suppressing tumor growth and promoting gemcitabine sensitivity in PDAC by downregulating cholesterol pathway.