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NPFF stimulates human ovarian cancer cell invasion by upregulating MMP-9 via ERK1/2 signaling

Published date

September 1, 2023


"Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) belongs to the RFamide peptide family. NPFF regulates a variety of physiological functions by binding to a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), NPFFR2. Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is a leading cause of death among gynecological malignancies. The pathogenesis of EOC can be regulated by many local factors, including neuropeptides, through an autocrine/paracrine manner. However, to date, the expression and/or function of NPFF/NPFFR2 in EOC is undetermined. In this study, we show that the upregulation of NPFFR2 mRNA was associated with poor overall survival in EOC. The TaqMan probe-based RT-qPCR showed that NPFF and NPFFR2 were expressed in three human EOC cells, CaOV3, OVCAR3, and SKOV3. In comparison, NPFF and NPFFR2 expression levels were higher in SKOV3 cells than in CaOV3 or OVCAR3 cells. Treatment of SKOV3 cells with NPFF did not affect cell viability and proliferation but stimulated cell invasion. NPFF treatment upregulates matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) expression. Using the siRNA-mediated knockdown approach, we showed that the stimulatory effect of NPFF on MMP-9 expression was mediated by the NPFFR2. Our results also showed that ERK1/2 signaling was activated in SKOV3 cells in response to the NPFF treatment. In addition, blocking the activation of ERK1/2 signaling abolished the NPFF-induced MMP-9 expression and cell invasion. This study provides evidence that NPFF stimulates EOC cell invasion by upregulating MMP-9 expression through the NPFFR2-mediated ERK1/2 signaling pathway."

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