Chitin hydrolysate stimulates VEGF-C synthesis by MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells


  • Alexander V Timoshenko

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    1. Department of Biology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6G 5B7, Canada
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Up-regulation of VEGF-C (vascular endothelial growth factor C), a most potent lymphangiogenic factor, is associated with inflammation and cancer metastasis. Identification of stimuli contributing to these processes is a challenging task. I demonstrate in this paper that chitin hydrolysate served as a strong inducer of VEGF-C synthesis by human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells, increasing the secretion of VEGF-C to the cell culture medium as much as by 10-fold in comparison with the basal production. A moderate increase of VEGF-C secretion was also observed in the presence of hypertonic doses of NaCl, which mimicked the matrix of chitin hydrolysate stock solution, and in the presence of chitin-binding lectin, WGA (wheat germ agglutinin). WGA, but not chitin hydrolysate, significantly affected the morphology of cells, which become smaller and rounded as assessed by viewing the actin cytoskeleton. Moreover, chitin hydrolysate inhibited the lectin effect on the cytoskeleton and sustained the overproduction of VEGF-C indicating that WGA-independent receptors were responsible for chitin-mediated stimulation of VEGF-C synthesis. These results suggest a novel function of chitin-derived oligosaccharides as VEGF-C stimuli.