Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the most lethal human malignancies worldwide. Here, we demonstrated that xanthohumol (XN), the most abundant prenylated chalcone isolated from hops, inhibited the growth of cultured PC cells and their subcutaneous xenograft tumors. XN treatment was found to induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of PC cells (PANC-1, BxPC-3) by inhibiting phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and expression of its downstream targeted genes cyclinD1, survivin, and Bcl-xL at the messenger RNA level, which involved in regulation of apoptosis and the cell cycle. Overall, our results suggested that XN presents a promising candidate therapeutic agent against human PC and the STAT3 signaling pathway is its key molecular target.
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