Neuroblastoma is the most prevalent extracranial solid tumor in childhood and has poor clinical outcome due to its high potential for metastasis. Consequently, an understanding of the mechanisms that modulate cancer cell invasion, migration and metastasis is important for the development of more effective chemotherapeutic agents. While β-carotene is a vitamin A precursor that has been shown to exert antioxidant and anticancer effects, the anti-metastatic effects of β-carotene on neuroblastoma cells remain poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate the anti-metastatic effects of β-carotene on highly malignant SK-N-BE(2)C neuroblastoma cells in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of SK-N-BE(2)C cells with β-carotene was found to attenuate the migratory and invasive capabilities of the cells. In addition, the enzymatic activity and expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 was suppressed following β-carotene treatment under both normoxia and hypoxia. To induce metastasis, immunodeficient nude mice were injected with SK-N-BE(2)C cells via the tail vein in vivo. The incidence of liver metastasis and mean tumor volume in mice that were administered β-carotene was decreased compared to controls. Furthermore, mRNA levels of MMPs, membrane-type (MT) 2 MMP and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases in liver tumor tissues were also lower following β-carotene treatment. Level of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and its downstream targets, vascular endothelial growth factor and glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1), were lower both in vitro and in vivo following β-carotene treatment. In conclusion, the present study provides the first evidence that β-carotene may represent an effective chemotherapeutic agent by regulating the invasion and metastasis of neuroblastoma via HIF-1α.
Keywords: Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α; Metastasis; Neuroblastoma; β-Carotene.
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