Pancreatic cancer is highly aggressive and refractory to most existing therapies. Past studies have shown that connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression is elevated in human pancreatic adenocarcinomas and some pancreatic cancer cell lines. To address whether and how CTGF influences tumor growth, we generated pancreatic tumor cell lines that overexpress different levels of human CTGF. The effect of CTGF overexpression on cell proliferation was measured in vitro in monolayer culture, suspension culture, or soft agar, and in vivo in tumor xenografts. Although there was no effect of CTGF expression on proliferation in two-dimensional cultures, anchorage-independent growth (AIG) was enhanced. The capacity of CTGF to enhance AIG in vitro was linked to enhanced pancreatic tumor growth in vivo when these cells were implanted s.c. in nude mice. Administration of a neutralizing CTGF-specific monoclonal antibody, FG-3019, had no effect on monolayer cell proliferation, but blocked AIG in soft agar. Consistent with this observation, anti-CTGF treatment of mice bearing established CTGF-expressing tumors abrogated CTGF-dependent tumor growth and inhibited lymph node metastases without any toxicity observed in normal tissue. Together, these studies implicate CTGF as a new target in pancreatic cancer and suggest that inhibition of CTGF with a human monoclonal antibody may control primary and metastatic tumor growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research