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Carcinogenesis. 2011 May;32(5):686-94. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgr025. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Capsaicin promotes a more aggressive gene expression phenotype and invasiveness in null-TRPV1 urothelial cancer cells.

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School of Pharmacy, Section of Experimental Medicine, University of Camerino, Via Madonna delle carceri 9, Camerino, Italy.


Capsaicin (CPS) has been found to exhibit either tumor promoting or suppressing effects, many of which are mediated by the specific transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1). Herein, we provide evidence that CPS treatment induced a more aggressive gene phenotype and invasiveness in 5637 cells-lacking TRPV1 receptor. CPS treatment of 5637 cells induced upregulation of pro-angiogenetic (angiopoietin 1, angiopoietin 2 and vascular endothelial growth factor), pro-invasive and pro-metastatic genes (MMP1, MMP9, TIMP1, TIMP3, granzyme A (GZMA), NM23A and S100A) with a downregulation of apoptotic genes (Fas/CD95 and tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 1A). CPS increased the invasiveness of 5637 cells by triggering IGF (insulin-like growth factor)-1 release, GZMA and MMP9 activation, α-tubulin disassembly and cytoskeleton degradation. Finally, in order to evaluate the relationship between the lack of TRPV1 expression and increased CPS-induced invasiveness, we transfected 5637 cells with the TRPV1 complementary DNA (cDNA) sequence. We found that TRPV1-expressing cells show CPS-mediated calcium level increase, growth inhibition and apoptosis. Moreover, CPS-induced migration and MMP9 activation were reverted, suggesting an inhibitory role played by TRPV1 in urothelial cancer cell invasion and metastasis.

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