Extracellular vesicles derived from pancreatic cancer cells are enriched in the growth factor Midkine

Adv Biol Regul. 2022 Jan;83:100857. doi: 10.1016/j.jbior.2021.100857. Epub 2021 Dec 7.


The growth factor Midkine is a heparin-binding cytokine originally discovered during the differentiation process induced by the retinoic acid in embryonal carcinoma cells. Several studies pointed out the key role of this protein in tumour progression and its elevated expression in different malignancies, including pancreatic cancer. New diagnostic and therapeutic tools are urgently required to treat this highly aggressive and incurable disease capable of metastasising, evading diagnosis, and resisting therapy. Serum midkine promises to be a very functional tumour marker and a target for cancer treatment as an elevated concentration of serum midkine is consistently reported in patients with various tumours. Here, we identified high levels of midkine in extracellular vesicles isolated from pancreatic cancer cell lines and showed that it stimulates the growth of pancreatic cancer cells not expressing midkine.

Keywords: Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles; Midkine; Pancreatic cancer; Tumour marker.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / genetics
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Midkine* / genetics
  • Midkine* / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cytokines
  • MDK protein, human
  • Midkine