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Cell Tissue Res. 2002 Sep;309(3):409-16. Epub 2002 Jul 10.

Cellular autophagic capacity changes during azaserine-induced tumour progression in the rat pancreas. Up-regulation in all premalignant stages and down-regulation with loss of cycloheximide sensitivity of segregation along with malignant transformation.

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Department of General Zoology, Loránd Eötvös University, Budapest, Pf 120, 1518, Hungary.


The knowledge of alterations in regulation of autophagy during tumorigenesis may also help our understanding of its normal control. We established an experimental system and reported recently that autophagic capacity, measured as the cell's capability of increasing segregation (formation of autophagosomes) and subsequent degradation of cytoplasmic quanta were highly increased in premalignant nodule cells 6 months after initiation by azaserine in the rat pancreas in vivo. In the present study, we followed changes of these autophagic functions throughout the tumour progression. We carried out electron-microscopic morphometrical analysis of the expansion of autophagic vacuole compartment and subcompartments induced by vinblastine (an in vivo segregation enhancer), as well as their regression upon segregation-inhibitor cycloheximide post-treatment. Premalignant tumour samples were taken at month 5, month 8 (nodules), month 10 and month 15 (adenomas) after initiation. In all these stages, a highly increased and varying autophagic capacity was found compared with the host tissue. The basal (non-stimulated) autophagic compartment was measurable only at month 5 and month 15, and its regression upon cycloheximide was consistent with increased basal autophagic activity. Compared with the host tissue, autophagic capacity profoundly decreased in the differentiated and anaplastic adenocarcinomas at month 20, when, surprisingly, cycloheximide was unable to inhibit segregation. Our conclusion is that down-regulation of the cycloheximide sensitive segregation and a partly compensatory up-regulation of an alternative pathway of segregation might occur along with malignant transformation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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