Pancreatic cancer (PC) is an aggressive malignancy with high mortality and is believed to be in part due to its highly invasive and metastatic behavior, which is associated with over-expression of EGFR and activation of NF-κB. Emerging evidence also suggest critical roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the regulation of various pathobiological processes including metastasis in PC and in other human malignancies. In the present study, we found lower expression of miR-146a in PC cells compared to normal human pancreatic duct epithelial (HPDE) cells. Interestingly, re-expression of miR-146a inhibited the invasive capacity of Colo357 and Panc-1 PC cells with concomitant down-regulation of EGFR and IRAK-1. Mechanistic studies including miR-146a re-expression, anti-miR-146 transfection, and EGFR knock-down experiment showed that there was a crosstalk between EGFR, MTA-2, IRAK-1, IκBα and NF-κB. Most importantly, we found that the treatment of PC cells with "natural agents" [3,3'-diinodolylmethane (DIM) or isoflavone] led to an increase in the expression of miR-146a and consequently down-regulated the expression of EGFR, MTA-2, IRAK-1 and NF-κB, resulting in the inhibition of invasion of Colo357 and Panc-1 cells. These results provide experimental evidence in support of the role of DIM and isoflavone as potential non-toxic agents as regulators of miRNA, which could be useful for the inhibition of cancer cell invasion and metastasis, and further suggesting that these agents could be important for designing novel targeted strategy for the treatment of PC.
Keywords: invasion; microRNA; pancreatic cancer.