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Metformin Increases the Chemosensitivity of Pancreatic Cancer Cells to Gemcitabine by Reversing EMT Through Regulation DNA Methylation of miR-663

Authors Gu Y, Zhang B, Gu G, Yang X, Qian Z

Received 15 May 2020

Accepted for publication 6 September 2020

Published 14 October 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 10417—10429


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Jianmin Xu

Yuqing Gu, Bin Zhang, Guangliang Gu, Xiaojun Yang, Zhuyin Qian

Pancreas Center, The Second Affiliated Hospital to Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210003, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Zhuyin Qian Email

Background: Pancreatic cancer is a devastating malignancy with poor prognosis. Metformin, a classic anti-diabetes drug, seems to improve survival of pancreatic cancer patients in some studies.
Methods: Cell counting kit-8 assay was used to detect the BxPC-3 and MIAPaCa-2 cell viability after treatment with gemcitabine only or with different concentrations of metformin. The methylation state and expression level of miR-663 were detected by methylation analysis and RT-PCR. Dual-luciferase reporter gene analysis, Western blot and RT-PCR were used to confirm the target of miR-663. Moreover, xenograft experiment was also performed to validate the role of metformin in chemosensitivity in vivo.
Results: We found that metformin increased the chemosensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine, and epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) progress caused by gemcitabine was suppressed by metformin. We further explored the possible molecular mechanisms and it was demonstrated that CpG islands of miR-663 were hypomethylated and relative expression level of miR-663 was up-regulated after treatment of metformin. miR-663, an important cancer suppressor miRNA, was confirmed to increase the chemosensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells by reversing EMT directly targeted TGF-β 1. Moreover, we identified that metformin increased the chemosensitivity through up-regulating expression of miR-663.
Conclusion: We demonstrated that metformin increased the chemosensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine by reversing EMT through regulation DNA methylation of miR-663.

Keywords: metformin, pancreatic cancer, epithelial-mesenchymal transition; EMT, DNA methylation, miR-663

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