Fibronectin plays a major role in hypoxia-induced lenvatinib resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma PLC/PRF/5 cells

M. Takahashi, K. Okada, R. Ouch, T. Konno, K. Usui, H. Suzuki, M. Satoh, T. Kogure, K. Satoh, Y. Watanabe, H. Nakamura, Y. Murai

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Resistance to lenvatinib mesylate (LEN), a systemic chemotherapy that can be administered orally, has been a major issue for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Although HCC is the tumor that most exhibits intratumoral hypoxia, which has been shown to be involved in the development of treatment resistance, there are no reports of LEN resistance in HCC treatment under hypoxia. The purpose of our study was to elucidate the mechanism of treatment resistance to LEN under hypoxia using HCC cell lines. We confirmed LEN resistance under hypoxic conditions in HCC cell lines. There was a significant increase in the IC50 value of PLC/PRF/5 cells from 13.0±0.8 μM in normoxia to 21.3±1.1 μM in hypoxia, but in HepG2 cells, the increase was not significant. To elucidate the LEN resistance mechanism of PLC/PRF/5 cells under hypoxia, we performed microarray analysis and extracted genes that are thought to be related to this mechanism. Furthermore, in-silico analysis confirmed significant changes in the extracellular matrix, and among them, FN1 encoding fibronectin was determined as the hub of the gene cluster. The expression of fibronectin in PLC/PRF/5 cells examined with immunofluorescence staining was significantly elevated in and outside of cells under hypoxia, and tended to decrease when cells were exposed to LEN under normoxia. Furthermore, the fibronectin concentration in the culture solution of PLC/PRF/5 cells examined by ELISA was 2.3 times higher under hypoxia than under normoxia under LEN(-) conditions, and 1.6 times higher under hypoxia than under normoxia under LEN(+) conditions. It is assumed that in PLC/PRF/5 cells, fibronectin is probably suppressed as an indirect effect of LEN under normoxia, but transcription factors such as HIF-1α are induced under hypoxia, thus enhancing the production of fibronectin and attenuating the effect of LEN, resulting in drug resistance. This behavior of fibronectin with LEN exposure under hypoxia is probably specific to PLC/PRF/5 cells. Further studies should verify the combined effective inhibition of fibronectin and the MAPK pathway as a promising therapeutic strategy to enhance the value of LEN in HCC treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-601
Number of pages8
JournalDie Pharmazie
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 5
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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