Objectives: Previous studies by our laboratory have demonstrated that parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) and its receptor (PTH/PTHrP receptor) are commonly expressed in pancreatic cancer and suggest their participation in the progression of this devastating disease. It has also been demonstrated that one of the major hallmarks of pancreatic adenocarcinoma is an increased production of the extracellular matrix (ECM), a critical regulator of diverse cellular processes such as differentiation, proliferation, and angiogenesis. The present study focused on the relationship between the PTHrP and ECM axes in the pathobiology of pancreatic cancer.
Method and results: Using the FG pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line, we demonstrate a significant inverse correlation between FG cell proliferation and PTHrP expression that depended on the ECM protein on which the cells were cultured (P < 0.05). Generally, ECM proteins that promoted the strongest proliferation, including type I collagen, type IV collagen, and laminin, resulted in decreased expression of PTHrP. Conversely, ECM proteins that promoted the weakest proliferation, including fibronectin, vitronectin, and BSA, resulted in increased expression of PTHrP. A similar trend was found between FG cell proliferation and the PTH/PTHrP receptor expression, with Pearson correlation coefficients of 0.480 (mRNA) and -0.591 (protein).
Conclusion: These observations demonstrate a unique functional relationship between the ECM and PTHrP axes and have important implications for our understanding of the complex mechanisms responsible for the progression of pancreatic cancer and its metastases.