Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) expressing in cancer cells inhibits tumor progression by suppressing CXCR2 signaling in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a dismal prognosis. Chemokines play important roles in the progression of many malignancies; however, the role of chemokine receptor expression in clinical cases of PDAC is unclear. Moreover, little is known about DARC, a decoy receptor of CXC chemokines, in the regulation of tumor progression.


Functions of chemokine receptors were evaluated using surgical specimens collected from PDAC patients, and PDAC cell lines.


CXCR2 expression had no impacts on predicting prognosis, but low DARC expression in cancer cells was an independent risk factor for poor prognosis. In PDAC with low DARC expression, tumor sizes were larger and vascular invasion was increased. High CXCR2 expression was a significant predictor for poor prognosis, only in PDAC patients with low DARC expression. CXCR2 signaling induced STAT3 activation in PDAC, resulting in promoting cell cycle progression, inhibiting apoptosis, inducing angiogenesis, and enhancing invasiveness. DARC inhibited STAT3 activation by down-regulating CXCR2 signaling. These effects were confirmed by EMSA in vitro. DARC knockdown significantly increased cell proliferation in CFPAC-1 cells with high DARC expression, by activating STAT3. In contrast, CXCR2 knockdown inhibited the proliferative effects of IL-8 in MIA PaCa-2 cells with low DARC expression. Moreover, the inhibitory effect of CXCR2 antagonist on PDAC cell proliferation was more powerful in MIA PaCa-2 cells than CFPAC-1 cells.


DARC expressing in cancer cells inhibits PDAC progression by suppressing STAT3 activation through the inhibition of CXCR2 signaling. Therefore, DARC is a novel prognostic predictor and a potential therapeutic target for PDAC.

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