Phycocyanin Inhibits Tumorigenic Potential of Pancreatic Cancer Cells: Role of Apoptosis and Autophagy.
Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 3 ;6:34564. Epub 2016 Aug 3. PMID: 27694919
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDA) is one of the most lethal human malignancies, and unresponsive to current chemotherapies. Here we investigate the therapeutic potential of phycocyanin as an anti-PDA agent in vivo and in vitro. Phycocyanin, a natural product purified from Spirulina, effectively inhibits the pancreatic cancer cell proliferation in vitro and xenograft tumor growth in vivo. Phycocyanin induces G2/M cell cycle arrest, apoptotic and autophagic cell death in PANC-1 cells. Inhibition of autophagy by targeting Beclin 1 using siRNA significantly suppresses cell growth inhibition and death induced by phycocyanin, whereas inhibition of both autophagy and apoptosis rescues phycocyanin-mediated cell death. Mechanistically, cell death induced by phycocyanin is the result of cross-talk among the MAPK, Akt/mTOR/p70S6K and NF-κB pathways. Phycocyanin is able to induce apoptosis of PANC-1 cell by activating p38 and JNK signaling pathways while inhibiting Erk pathway. On the other hand, phycocyanin promotes autophagic cell death by inhibiting PI3/Akt/mTOR signaling pathways. Furthermore, phycocyanin promotes the activation and nuclear translocation of NF-κB, which plays an important role in balancing phycocyanin-mediated apoptosis and autosis. In conclusion, our studies demonstrate that phycocyanin exerts anti-pancreatic cancer activity by inducing apoptotic and autophagic cell death, thereby identifying phycocyanin as a promising anti-pancreatic cancer agent.