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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018;47(4):1399-1410. doi: 10.1159/000490829. Epub 2018 Jun 19.

Induction of Pro-Inflammatory Response via Activated Macrophage-Mediated NF-κB and STAT3 Pathways in Gastric Cancer Cells.



Chronic inflammation plays an important role in the initiation and progression of gastric cancer (GC). However, the role and relationship of activated macrophages with gastric mucous epithelium cells in initiating and maintaining the inflammatory process during gastric carcinogenesis remains unclear.


The tumour associated macrophages (TAMs) density of gastric cancer was characterized by immunohistochemistry, and the relationship between macrophages and gastric epithelium cells was analysed using an in vitro culture system that imitates the inflammatory microenvironment. The production of pro-inflammatory cytokines was detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). MTT assays, Western blotting, qRT-PCR, and luciferase reporter assays were used to detect the effects of cell proliferation, as well as the NF-κB and STAT3 signalling pathways.


TAMs infiltrated with a high intensity in GC and were significantly correlated with histology grade (P = 0.012), metastasis (P = 0.001), TNM stage (P = 0.002), and poor prognosis in patients (PFS, P = 0.005; OS, P = 0.028). In addition, IL-6 and IL-8 were elevated in the serum of GC patients and significantly promoted the growth of GC. The exposure of BGC823 gastric cancer cells to a conditioned medium from LPS-treated D-THP-1 cells significantly induced the production of TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β and IL-8 (P< 0.01). LPS and LPS-treated D-THP-1-conditioned media promoted gastric cancer cell proliferation and triggered the significant activation of NF-κB and STAT3 with a concomitant degradation of IκBα and an increase in JAK2 phosphorylation (P < 0.05). Moreover, gastric cancer cells markedly expressed cell membrane LPS receptors, such as TLR1, TLR4, TLR6, CD14 and MD2.


TAMs are closely associated with the growth of GC and prognosis in GC patients. GC cells may directly sustain and amplify the local pro-inflammatory response upon encountering activated macrophages and LPS via NF-κB and STAT3 signalling pathways, thereby promoting tumour progression.


Gastric cancer; Inflammation; Macrophage; Nuclear factor-kappa B; Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3

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