Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(2):253-264. doi:10.7150/ijbs.27420 This issue

Research Paper

Adiponectin Suppresses Human Pancreatic Cancer Growth through Attenuating the β-Catenin Signaling Pathway

Jinghui Jiang1,*, Yingchao Fan1,*, Wei Zhang1, Yuling Shen1,2, Tingting Liu1, Ming Yao1, Jianren Gu1, Hong Tu1✉, Yu Gan1✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Oncogenes and Related Genes, Shanghai Cancer Institute, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, 25/Ln. 2200 Xietu Road, Shanghai 200032, China.
2. Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, 1630 Dongfang Road, Shanghai 200127, China.
* These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Jiang J, Fan Y, Zhang W, Shen Y, Liu T, Yao M, Gu J, Tu H, Gan Y. Adiponectin Suppresses Human Pancreatic Cancer Growth through Attenuating the β-Catenin Signaling Pathway. Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(2):253-264. doi:10.7150/ijbs.27420. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Adipokines are emerging as a link between obesity and obesity-related cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Adiponectin is an abundant adipokine with pleiotropic beneficial roles in metabolic disorders. Low adiponectin levels are commonly observed in human obesity and have been associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk in prospective epidemiologic studies. Here, we investigated the direct effect of adiponectin on human pancreatic cancer in vitro and in vivo. Our results showed that adiponectin treatment significantly inhibited the proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cells. Knockdown of adiponectin receptors completely eliminated the antiproliferation effect of adiponectin and markedly promoted the growth of human pancreatic cancer xenografts in nude mice. Further analysis revealed that adiponectin blocked the phosphorylation/inactivation of GSK-3β, suppressed the intracellular accumulation of β-catenin, reduced the expression of cyclin D1, and consequently caused cell cycle accumulation at the G0-G1 phase in pancreatic cancer cells. Adiponectin-mediated attenuation of cell proliferation was abrogated by the GSK-3β inhibitor. In addition, a microarray analysis revealed that adiponectin also downregulated the expression of TCF7L2, a coactivator of β-catenin, at the transcriptional level in pancreatic cancer cells. These results indicated that the protective role of adiponectin against human pancreatic cancer might be attributed to its attenuating effect on the β-catenin signaling pathway. Taken together, our findings support a causal link between hypoadiponectinemia and increased pancreatic cancer risk, and suggest that activating adiponectin signaling could be a novel therapeutic strategy for obesity-related pancreatic cancer.

Keywords: adiponectin, pancreatic cancer, cell proliferation, GSK-3β, β-catenin