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Mol Cancer. 2011 Nov 26;10:146. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-10-146.

β2-adrenoceptor blockage induces G1/S phase arrest and apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells via Ras/Akt/NFκB pathway.

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  • 1Department of Hepatobiliary and Pancreas Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710061, China.



Smoking and stress, pancreatic cancer (PanCa) risk factors, stimulate nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) and catecholamines production respectively. NNK and catecholamine bind the β-adrenoceptors and induce PanCa cell proliferation; and we have previously suggested that β-adrenergic antagonists may suppress proliferation and invasion and stimulate apoptosis in PanCa. To clarify the mechanism of apoptosis induced by β2-adrenergic antagonist, we hypothesize that blockage of the β2-adrenoceptor could induce G1/S phase arrest and apoptosis and Ras may be a key player in PanCa cells.


The β1 and β2-adrenoceptor proteins were detected on the cell surface of PanCa cells from pancreatic carcinoma specimen samples by immunohistochemistry. The β2-adrenergic antagonist ICI118,551 significantly induced G1/S phase arrest and apoptosis compared with the β1-adrenergic antagonist metoprolol, which was determined by the flow cytometry assay. β2-adrenergic antagonist therapy significantly suppressed the expression of extracellular signal-regulated kinase, Akt, Bcl-2, cyclin D1, and cyclin E and induced the activation of caspase-3, caspase-9 and Bax by Western blotting. Additionally, the β2-adrenergic antagonist reduced the activation of NFκB in vitro cultured PanCa cells.


The blockage of β2-adrenoceptor markedly induced PanCa cells to arrest at G1/S phase and consequently resulted in cell death, which is possibly due to that the blockage of β2-adrenoceptor inhibited NFκB, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and Akt pathways. Therefore, their upstream molecule Ras may be a key factor in the β2-adrenoceptor antagonist induced G1/S phase arrest and apoptosis in PanCa cells. The new pathway discovered in this study may provide an effective therapeutic strategy for PanCa.

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