Effects of alpha-adrenoreceptor antagonists on apoptosis and proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro

World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Apr 21;14(15):2358-63. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.2358.


Aim: To discuss the expression of alpha-adrenoreceptors in pancreatic cancer cell lines PC-2 and PC-3 and the effects of alpha1- and alpha2-adrenoreceptor antagonists, yohimbine and urapidil hydrochloride, on the cell lines in vitro.

Methods: We cultured the human ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell lines PC-2 and PC-3 and analyzed the mRNA expression of alpha1- and alpha2-adrenergic receptors by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The effects of yohimbine and urapidil hydrochloride on cell proliferation were assessed by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiasol-2-yl)-2,4,-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Apoptosis was detected using the terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated biotin-16-dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay and flow cytometry (FCM).

Results: PC-2 expressed mRNA in alpha1- and alpha2-adrenoreceptors. MTT assays showed that urapidil hydrochloride had no effect on PC-3 cell lines. However, exposure to urapidil hydrochloride increased DNA synthesis in PC-2 cell lines as compared to the control group. PC-2 cell lines were sensitive to both drugs. The proliferation of the 2 cell lines was inhibited by yohimbine. Cell proliferation was inhibited by yohimbine via apoptosis induction.

Conclusion: The expression of alpha1- and alpha2-adrenoreceptors is different in PC-2 and PC-3 cell lines, which might be indicative of their different functions. The alpha2-adrenoceptor antagonist, yohimbine, can inhibit the proliferation of both cell lines and induce their apoptosis, suggesting that yohimbine can be used as an anticancer drug for apoptosis of PC-2 and PC-3 cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Antagonists*
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2 / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Yohimbine / pharmacology*


  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Piperazines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-1
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2
  • Yohimbine
  • urapidil