A Novel Positive Feedback Loop Between NTSR1 and Wnt/β-Catenin Contributes to Tumor Growth of Glioblastoma

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;43(5):2133-2142. doi: 10.1159/000484232. Epub 2017 Oct 24.


Background/aims: Neurotensin (NTS), an intestinal hormone, is profoundly implicated in cancer progression through binding its primary receptor NTSR1. The conserved Wnt/β-Catenin pathway regulates cell proliferation and differentiation via activation of the β-catenin/T-cell factor (TCF) complex and subsequent modulation of a set of target genes. In this study, we aimed to uncover the potential connection between NTS/NTSR1 signaling and Wnt/β-Catenin pathway.

Methods: Genetic silencing, pharmacological inhibition and gain-of-function studies as well as bioinformatic analysis were performed to uncover the link between NTS/ NTSR1 signaling and Wnt/β-Catenin pathway. Two inhibitors were used in vivo to evaluate the efficiency of targeting NTS/NTSR1 signaling or Wnt/β-Catenin pathway.

Results: We found that NTS/NTSR1 induced the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and the NF-κB pathway, which further promoted the expression of Wnt proteins, including Wnt1, Wnt3a and Wnt5a. Meanwhile, the mRNA and protein expression levels of NTSR1 were increased by the Wnt pathway activator Wnt3a and decreased by the Wnt inhibitor iCRT3 in glioblastoma cells. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of NTS/NTSR1 or Wnt/β-Catenin signaling suppressed tumor growth in vitro and in vivo.

Conclusion: These results reveal a positive feedback loop between NTS/NTSR1 and Wnt/β-Catenin signaling in glioblastoma cells that might be important for tumor development and provide potential therapeutic targets for glioblastoma.

Keywords: Glioblastoma; NTSR1; Neurotensin; SR48692; Wnt/β-Catenin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, SCID
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Neurotensin / genetics
  • Receptors, Neurotensin / metabolism*
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Neurotensin
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • neurotensin type 1 receptor