Clonorchis sinensis is a group I bio-carcinogen responsible for cholangiocarcinoma (CHCA) in humans. However, the mechanism by which C. sinensis promotes carcinogenesis is unclear. Using the human cholangiocyte line H69, we investigated cell proliferation and gap junction protein expression after stimulation with the hepatotoxin N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and/or excretory-secretory products (ESP) of C. sinensis, which induce inflammation. NDMA and ESP treatment increased proliferation by 146% and the proportion of cells in the G2/M phase by 37%. Moreover, the expression of the cell proliferation-related proteins E2F1, Ki-67, and cancer related protein cytokeratin 19 and Cox-2 increased in response to combined treatment with NDMA and ESP. The gap-junction proteins connexin (Cx) 43 and Cx26 increased. In contrast, Cx32 expression decreased in cells treated with NDMA and ESP. Silencing of Cx43 reduced cell proliferation and significantly suppressed Cx26 and Cox-2 expression. These results suggest that Cx43 is an important factor in CHCA induced by C. sinensis ESP and NDMA and further investigations targeting this pathway may allow prevention of this deadly disease.
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