Overexpression of membrane metalloendopeptidase inhibits substance P stimulation of cholangiocarcinoma growth.
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Substance P (SP) promotes cholangiocyte growth during cholestasis by activating its receptor, NK1R. SP is a proteolytic product of tachykinin (Tac1) and is deactivated by membrane metalloendopeptidase (MME). This study aimed to evaluate the functional role of SP in the regulation of cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) growth. NK1R, Tac1, and MME expression and SP secretion were assessed in human CCA cells and nonmalignant cholangiocytes. The proliferative effects of SP (in the absence/presence of the NK1R inhibitor, L-733,060) and of L-733,060 were evaluated. In vivo, the effect of L-733,060 treatment or MME overexpression on tumor growth was evaluated by using a xenograft model of CCA in nu/nu nude mice. The expression of Tac1, MME, NK1R, PCNA, CK-19, and VEGF-A was analyzed in the resulting tumors. Human CCA cell lines had increased expression of Tac1 and NK1R, along with reduced levels of MME compared with nonmalignant cholangiocytes, resulting in a subsequent increase in SP secretion. SP treatment increased CCA cell proliferation in vitro, which was blocked by L-733,060. Treatment with L-733,060 alone inhibited CCA proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Xenograft tumors derived from MME-overexpressed human Mz-ChA-1 CCA cells had a slower growth rate than those derived from control cells. Expression of PCNA, CK-19, and VEGF-A decreased, whereas MME expression increased in the xenograft tumors treated with L-733,060 or MME-overexpressed xenograft tumors compared with controls. The study suggests that SP secreted by CCA promotes CCA growth via autocrine pathway. Blockade of SP secretion and NK1R signaling may be important for the management of CCA.