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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 10 (2001), Issue 5, Pages 259-267

Erythromycin and clarithromycin modulation of growth factor-induced expression of heparanase mRNA on human lung cancer cells in vitro

Second Department of Internal Medicine, Akita University School of Medicine, 1–1–1 Hondo, Akita 010, Japan

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Heparanase activity is correlated with the metastatic potential of several cancer cells and is a key enzyme in the breakdown of tissue barriers. It is also involved in the regulation of growth factor and cytokine activity. However, little is known about the factors that induce heparanase in cancer cells. We investigated the effect of three growth factors, plateletderived growth factor (PDGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), on heparanase mRNA induction in lung cancer cells in vitro. In addition, we examined the effect of erythromycin (EM) and clarithromycin (CAM), which are 14-membered ring macrolide antibiotics that act as biological response modifiers, on the expression of heparanase mRNA induced by growth factors.

PDGF, HGF and bFGF stimulated cell migration activity and enhanced the expression of heparanase mRNA in the human lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549. Via different mechanisms, EM and CAM modulate the induction by these factors of heparanase mRNA expression on A549 cells. EM also significantly suppressed A549 cell migration induced by PDGF and HGF, and CAM significantly suppressed A549 cell migration induced by bFGF.

The results suggest that the growth factors PDGF, HGF and bFGF are important inducers of heparanase in potentially invasive and metastatic cancer cells. The suppressive effect of heparanase mRNA expression by EM and CAM may have interesting therapeutic applications in the prevention of metastasis.