Lipocalin 2 mediates appetite suppression during pancreatic cancer cachexia

Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 6;12(1):2057. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22361-3.


Lipocalin 2 (LCN2) was recently identified as an endogenous ligand of the type 4 melanocortin receptor (MC4R), a critical regulator of appetite. However, it remains unknown if this molecule influences appetite during cancer cachexia, a devastating clinical entity characterized by decreased nutrition and progressive wasting. We demonstrate that LCN2 is robustly upregulated in murine models of pancreatic cancer, its expression is associated with reduced food consumption, and Lcn2 deletion is protective from cachexia-anorexia. Consistent with LCN2's proposed MC4R-dependent role in cancer-induced anorexia, pharmacologic MC4R antagonism mitigates cachexia-anorexia, while restoration of Lcn2 expression in the bone marrow is sufficient in restoring the anorexia feature of cachexia. Finally, we observe that LCN2 levels correlate with fat and lean mass wasting and is associated with increased mortality in patients with pancreatic cancer. Taken together, these findings implicate LCN2 as a pathologic mediator of appetite suppression during pancreatic cancer cachexia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Anorexia / blood
  • Anorexia / complications
  • Appetite*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / pathology
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Cachexia / blood
  • Cachexia / complications*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Humans
  • Lipocalin-2 / blood
  • Lipocalin-2 / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Organ Size
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / agonists
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Lipocalin-2
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4