The molecular basis for the clinical association between diabetes mellitus and pancreatic cancer was investigated, using Mia PaCa-2 human pancreatic cancer cells in culture. Advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) prepared with bovine serum albumin and glucose were found to stimulate Mia PaCa-2 cell synthesis of DNA in a dose-dependent manner and also to significantly increase the number of viable cells. Evidence that platelet-derived growth factor-B (PDGF-B) mediates this growth promotion was obtained; AGE upregulated the level of PDGF-B mRNA, and antibodies against PDGF-BB completely neutralized the AGE-induced DNA synthesis. Antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotides complementary to mRNA encoding a receptor for AGE were found to reverse both the PDGF-B upregulation and the AGE-induced DNA synthesis. These results thus indicate that AGE ligand-receptor interactions could play an active part in the progression of pancreatic cancer through the induction of autocrine PDGF-B.