Stat3 activation regulates the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and human pancreatic cancer angiogenesis and metastasis

Oncogene. 2003 Jan 23;22(3):319-29. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1206122.


Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a key angiogenic protein, has been linked with pancreatic cancer progression. However, the molecular basis for VEGF overexpression remains unclear. Immunohistochemical studies have indicated that VEGF overexpression coincides with elevated Stat3 activation in human pancreatic cancer specimens. In our study, more than 80% of the human pancreatic cancer cell lines used exhibited constitutively activated Stat3, with Stat3 activation correlated with the VEGF expression level. Blockade of activated Stat3 via ectopic expression of dominant-negative Stat3 significantly suppressed VEGF expression, angiogenesis, tumor growth, and metastasis in vivo. Furthermore, constitutively activated Stat3 directly activated the VEGF promoter, whereas dominant-negative Stat3 inhibited the VEGF promoter. A putative Stat3-responsive element on the VEGF promoter was identified using a protein-DNA binding assay and confirmed using a promoter mutagenesis assay. These results indicate that Stat3 directly regulates VEGF expression and hence angiogenesis, growth, and metastasis of human pancreatic cancer, suggesting that Stat3 signaling may be targeted for treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Carcinogenicity Tests
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / genetics*
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphokines / genetics*
  • Lymphokines / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Pancreas / blood supply
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lymphokines
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Stat3 protein, mouse
  • Trans-Activators
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors