Hispidulin, a small flavonoid molecule, suppresses the angiogenesis and growth of human pancreatic cancer by targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2-mediated PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway.

Research paper by Lijun L He, Yuanyuan Y Wu, Lei L Lin, Jieqiong J Wang, Yougen Y Wu, Yihua Y Chen, Zhengfang Z Yi, Mingyao M Liu, Xiufeng X Pang

Indexed on: 23 Nov '10Published on: 23 Nov '10Published in: Cancer Science


Hispidulin, an active component from Artemisia vestita, a traditional Tibetan medicinal plant, has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative activities. However, the functional role of hispidulin on tumor growth and angiogenesis has not been elucidated. We found that hispidulin significantly inhibited human pancreatic tumor growth in xenograft mice when s.c. treated at a dosage of 20 mg/kg daily, and this effect was accompanied with a potent inhibition on angiogenesis. When examining the cytotoxicity of hispidulin on HUVECs and pancreatic cancer cells in vitro, we found that HUVECs were more susceptible to the treatment, suggesting angiogenesis might be the primary target of hispidulin. Our results further showed that hispidulin inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced cell migration, invasion, and capillary-like structure formation of HUVECs in a dose-dependent manner. In ex vivo and in vivo angiogenesis assays, we showed that hispidulin suppressed VEGF-induced microvessel sprouting of rat aortic rings and corneal neovascularization in C57/BL6 mice. To understand the underlying molecular basis, we next examined the effects of hispidulin on different molecular components in treated HUVECs, and found that hispidulin suppressed the VEGF-triggered activation of VEGF receptor 2, PI3K, Akt, mTOR, and ribosomal protein S6 kinase, but had little effect on focal adhesion kinase or extracellular signal-regulated kinase at an effective concentration. Taken together, our results indicate that hispidulin targets the VEGF receptor 2-mediated PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway in endothelial cells, leading to the suppression of pancreatic tumor growth and angiogenesis.