Most cancer cells rely on aerobic glycolysis to support uncontrolled proliferation and evade apoptosis. However, pancreatic cancer cells switch to glutamine metabolism to survive under hypoxic conditions. Activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway induces aerobic glycolysis by activating enzymes required for glucose metabolism and regulating the expression of glutamate transporter and glutamine synthetase. The results demonstrate that riluzole inhibits pancreatic cancer cell growth and has no effect on human pancreatic normal ductal epithelial cells. RNA-seq experiments identified the involvement of Wnt and metabolic pathways by riluzole. Inhibition of Wnt-β-catenin/TCF-LEF pathway by riluzole suppresses the expression of PDK, MCT1, cMyc, AXIN, and CyclinD1. Riluzole inhibits glucose transporter 2 expression, glucose uptake, lactate dehydrogenase A expression, and NAD + level. Furthermore, riluzole inhibits glutamate release and glutathione levels, and elevates reactive oxygen species. Riluzole disrupts mitochondrial homeostasis by inhibiting Bcl-2 and upregulating Bax expression, resulting in a drop of mitochondrial membrane potential. Finally, riluzole inhibits pancreatic cancer growth in KPC (Pdx1-Cre, LSL-Trp53R172H, and LSL-KrasG12D) mice. In conclusion, riluzole can inhibit pancreatic cancer growth by regulating glucose and glutamine metabolisms and can be used to treat pancreatic cancer.
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