Serotonin-RhoA/ROCK axis promotes acinar-to-ductal metaplasia in caerulein-induced chronic pancreatitis.


School of Chemical Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China; The UCLA Agi Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, United States; Functional Genomics and Proteomics Laboratory, Osteoporosis Research Center, Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, NE, United States. Electronic address: [Email]


The underlying molecular mechanisms of chronic pancreatitis (CP) developing into pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remain largely unknown. Here we show that the level of serotonin in mouse pancreatic tissues is upregulated in caerulein-induced CP mice. In vitro study demonstrates that serotonin promotes the formation of acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM) and the activation of pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), which results from the activation of RhoA/ROCK signaling cascade. Activation of this signaling cascade increases NF-κB nuclear translocation and α-SMA expression, which further enhance the inflammatory responses and fibrosis in pancreatic tissues. Intriguingly, quercetin inhibits both ADM lesion and PSCs activation in vitro and in vivo via its inhibitory effect on serotonin release. Our findings underscore the instrumental role of serotonin-mediated activation of RhoA/ROCK signaling pathway in development of PDAC from CP and highlight a potential to impede PDAC development by disrupting tumor-promoting functions of serotonin.


Acinar-to-ductal metaplasia,Chronic pancreatitis,PDAC,PSCs,Serotonin,

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