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Int J Cancer. 2003 Oct 20;107(1):22-9.

Macrophage migration inhibitory factor: roles in regulating tumor cell migration and expression of angiogenic factors in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Centre for the Study of Liver Disease and Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong Medical Centre, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) may contribute to multiple aspects of tumor progression, including control of cell proliferation, differentiation, cell survival and angiogenesis. However, the potential roles of MIF in regulating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tumor cell migration and the expression of angiogenic factors by HCC tumor cells have not been studied yet. In our study, we reported that intracellular MIF mRNA and protein were overexpressed in HCC tissues compared to nontumor tissues by using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemic staining. HCC tumor cell lines also secreted large amounts of MIF into the supernatants of tumor cell culture. To assess the role of MIF in HCC, we employed the transwell invasion chamber to study the effect of MIF on tumor cell migration. Our results showed that recombinant MIF and the supernatants of tumor cell line culture could enhance the invasion and migration of HCC cells. This effect can be inhibited by the addition of a neutralizing anti-MIF antibody. We observed that increased MIF serum levels correlated with higher levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8) in the sera of patients with HCC than in normal volunteers. We therefore hypothesized that MIF may regulate the production of angiogenic factors by HCC cells. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effect of MIF treatment on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and IL-8 expression by HCC cell lines. MIF induced a significant dose-dependent increase in IL-8 and VEGF production. Taken together, our results indicated that MIF may act as an autocrine-acting factor that stimulates angiogenesis and metastasis in HCC by promoting expression of angiogenic factors and migration of tumor cells. A more detailed understanding of the MIF regulatory mechanisms involved may provide insight into new direction in the treatment of HCC.

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