Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(5):1020-1029. doi:10.7150/ijbs.27825

Research Paper

Inflammatory and Senescent Phenotype of Pancreatic Stellate Cells Induced by Sqstm1 Downregulation Facilitates Pancreatic Cancer Progression

Chuxiao Shao1*✉, Chaoyong Tu1*, Xiangdong Cheng2,*, Zhiyuan Xu2, Xiaoguang Wang3, Jian Shen4, Kequn Chai5,6✉, Wei Chen5,6✉

1. Department of Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery, the Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Lishui Hospital of Zhejiang University, School of Medicine, Lishui, Zhejiang 323000, P.R. China
2. Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medicine University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
3. Department of Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery, Jiaxing Second Hospital, Jiaxing, Zhejiang, China
4. Department of Surgery, the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
5. Cancer Institute of Integrated traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Key laboratory of cancer prevention and therapy combining traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Zhejiang Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310012, China
6. Department of Medical Oncology, Tongde hospital of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310012, China
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Shao C, Tu C, Cheng X, Xu Z, Wang X, Shen J, Chai K, Chen W. Inflammatory and Senescent Phenotype of Pancreatic Stellate Cells Induced by Sqstm1 Downregulation Facilitates Pancreatic Cancer Progression. Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(5):1020-1029. doi:10.7150/ijbs.27825. Available from

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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has unique microenvironment with extensive infiltration of fibroblasts, which are mainly derived from the resident pancreatic stellate cells (PaSCs). As activated PaSCs constitute a major contributor to pancreatic cancer progression, the mechanisms underlying their activation have been being intensively studied. Previous studies showed that Sequestosome-1 (sqstm1) can modulate the functional status of fibroblasts in cancer. Here, we further delineated the role of sqstm1 in PaSCs. The analysis of PDAC patient samples revealed reduction of sqstm1 expression in activated PaSCs in both mRNA and protein level. Downregulated sqstm1 via shRNA in PaSCs led to an inflammatory and senescent phenotype with increased IL8, CXCL1, and CXCL2 expression. Further analysis demonstrated that increased intracellular reactive oxygen species level contributed to the senescence in sqstm1-downregulated PaSCs. This was mediated via impaired NRF2 activity since reduced sqstm1 resulted in accumulation of KEAP1. Meanwhile, we found that sqstm1 degradation caused by enhanced autophagy was not associated with transformation of senescent phenotype. At last, the data revealed that sqstm1-downregulated PaSCs promoted pancreatic tumor cell growth, invasion, and macrophage phenotype transformation. Collectively, the current study indicated that sqstm1 controlled transformation of senescent phenotype of PaSCs, which in turn is pro-tumorigenic.

Keywords: sqstm1, pancreatic stellate cells, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, reactive oxygen species, senescence