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Open access

Linfei Yang, Xiao Yu and Yongchao Yang

Although the upregulation of autotaxin (ATX) is associated with many solid tumours, its role in pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (pNEN) has not been well elucidated. The expression of ATX in pNEN tissues and pNEN cell line BON1 was analysed by Western blot, PCR and immunocytochemistry upon exposure to interleukin-6 (IL-6). Additionally, pNEN cell line BON1 was transfected with siRNAs against ATX or signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and assessed by in vitro invasion assays. The following results were obtained. The expression of ATX in pNEN tissues was significantly increased compared with that in normal pancreatic tissues. High ATX expression was strongly correlated with tumour grade, lymph node metastasis and tumour-node-metastasis stage. Furthermore, ATX downregulation notably inhibited the metastatic capacity of pNEN cells, whereas STAT3 knockdown was found to downregulate the expression of ATX. ATX expression was upregulated in BON1 cells upon stimulation with IL-6, and this was accompanied by activation/phosphorylation of STAT3. Western blot analysis of human pNEN tissue extracts confirmed increased ATX expression and STAT3 phosphorylation with elevated expression levels of IL-6. In conclusion, ATX is upregulated in pNEN and is correlated with the metastatic capacity of pNEN cells, potentially via interaction with STAT3 activation.

Open access

Simon Schimmack, Yongchao Yang, Klaus Felix, Markus Herbst, Yixiong Li, Miriam Schenk, Frank Bergmann, Thilo Hackert and Oliver Strobel


Elevated pre-operative C-reactive protein (CRP) serum values have been reported to be associated with poor overall survival for patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (pNEN). The aim of this study was to identify mechanisms linking CRP to poor prognosis in pNEN.


The malignant properties of pNENs were investigated using the human pNEN cell-lines BON1 and QGP1 exposed to CRP or IL-6. Analyses were performed by ELISA, Western blot, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry as well as invasion and proliferation assays. To compare cytokine profiles and CRP levels, 76 serum samples of pNEN patients were analyzed using Luminex technology. In parallel, the expression of CRP and growth signaling pathway proteins was assessed on cell lines and paraffin-embedded primary pNEN.


In BON1 and QGP1 cells, inflammation (exposure to IL-6) significantly upregulated CRP expression and secretion as well as migratory properties. CRP stimulation of BON1 cells increased IL-6 secretion and invasion. This was accompanied by activation/phosphorylation of the ERK, AKT and/or STAT3 pathways. Although known CRP receptors – CD16, CD32 and CD64 – were not detected on BON1 cells, CRP uptake of pNEN cells was shown after CRP exposure. In patients, increased pre-operative CRP levels (≥5 mg/L) were associated with significantly higher serum levels of IL-6 and G-CSF, as well as with an increased CRP expression and ERK/AKT/STAT3 phosphorylation in pNEN tissue.


The malignant properties of pNEN cells can be stimulated by CRP and IL-6 promoting ERK/AKT/STAT pathways activation as well as invasion, thus linking systemic inflammation and poor prognosis.