The function and mechanisms of action of ghrelin and obestatin in ovarian cancer

Walpole, Carina Maree (2012) The function and mechanisms of action of ghrelin and obestatin in ovarian cancer. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In this study, we have demonstrated that the preproghrelin derived hormones, ghrelin and obestatin, may play a role in ovarian cancer. Ghrelin and obestatin stimulated an increase in cell migration in ovarian cancer cell lines and may play a role in cancer progression. Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death among gynaecological cancers and is the sixth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women in developed countries. As ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose at a low tumour grade, two thirds of ovarian cancers are not diagnosed until the late stages of cancer development resulting in a poor prognosis for the patient. As a result, current treatment methods are limited and not ideal. There is an urgent need for improved diagnostic markers, as well better therapeutic approaches and adjunctive therapies for this disease.

Ghrelin has a number of important physiological effects, including roles in appetite regulation and the stimulation of growth hormone release. It is also involved in regulating the immune, cardiovascular and reproductive systems and regulates sleep, memory and anxiety, and energy metabolism. Over the last decade, the ghrelin axis, (which includes the hormones ghrelin and obestatin and their receptors), has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many human diseases and it may t may also play an important role in the development of cancer. Ghrelin is a 28 amino acid peptide hormone that exists in two forms. Acyl ghrelin (usually referred to as ghrelin), has a unique n-octanoic acid post-translational modification (which is catalysed by ghrelin O-acyltransferase, GOAT), and desacyl ghrelin, which is a non-octanoylated form. Octanoylated ghrelin acts through the growth hormone secretagogue receptor type 1a (GHSR1a). GHSR1b, an alternatively spliced isoform of GHSR, is C-terminally truncated and does not bind ghrelin. Ghrelin has been implicated in the pathophysiology of a number of diseases Obestatin is a 23 amino acid, C-terminally amidated peptide which is derived from preproghrelin. Although GPR39 was originally thought to be the obestatin receptor this has been disproven, and its receptor remains unknown. Obestatin may have as diverse range of roles as ghrelin. Obestatin improves memory, inhibits thirst and anxiety, increases pancreatic juice secretion and has cardioprotective effects. Obestatin also has been shown to regulate cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis in some cell types.

Prior to this study, little was known regarding the functions and mechanisms of action ghrelin and obestatin in ovarian cancer. In this study it was demonstrated that the full length ghrelin, GHSR1b and GOAT mRNA transcripts were expressed in all of the ovarian-derived cell lines examined (SKOV3, OV-MZ-6 and hOSE 17.1), however, these cell lines did not express GHSR1a. Ovarian cancer tissue of varying stages and normal ovarian tissue expressed the coding region for ghrelin, obestatin, and GOAT, but not GHSR1a, or GHSR1b. No correlations between cancer grade and the level of expression of these transcripts were observed.

This study demonstrated for the first time that both ghrelin and obestatin increase cell migration in ovarian cancer cell lines. Treatment with ghrelin (for 72 hours) significantly increased cell migration in the SKOV3 and OV-MZ-6 ovarian cancer cell lines. Ghrelin (100 nM) stimulated cell migration in the SKOV3 (2.64 +/- 1.08 fold, p <0.05) and OV-MZ-6 (1.65 +/- 0.31 fold, p <0.05) ovarian cancer cell lines, but not in the representative normal cell line hOSE 17.1. This increase in migration was not accompanied by an increase in cell invasion through Matrigel. In contrast to other cancer types, ghrelin had no effect on proliferation. Ghrelin treatment (10nM) significantly decreased attachment of the SKOV3 ovarian cancer cell line to collagen IV (24.7 +/- 10.0 %, p <0.05), however, there were no changes in attachment to the other extracellular matrix molecules (ECM) tested (fibronectin, vitronectin and collagen I), and there were no changes in attachment to any of the ECM molecules in the OV-MZ-6 or hOSE 17.1 cell lines. It is, therefore, unclear if ghrelin plays a role in cell attachment in ovarian cancer.

As ghrelin has previously been demonstrated to signal through the ERK1/2 pathway in cancer, we investigated ERK1/2 signalling in ovarian cancer cell lines. In the SKOV3 ovarian cancer cell line, a reduction in ERK1/2 phosphorylation (0.58 fold +/- 0.23, p <0.05) in response to 100 nM ghrelin treatment was observed, while no significant change in ERK1/2 signalling was seen in the OV-MZ-6 cell line with treatment. This suggests that this pathway is unlikely to be involved in mediating the increased migration seen in the ovarian cancer cell lines with ghrelin treatment.

In this study ovarian cancer tissue of varying stages and normal ovarian tissue expressed the coding region for obestatin, however, no correlation between cancer grade and level of obestatin transcript expression was observed. In the ovarian-derived cell lines studied (SKOV3, OV-MZ-6 and hOSE 17.1) it was demonstrated that the full length preproghrelin mRNA transcripts were expressed in all cell lines, suggesting they have the ability to produce mature obestatin.

This is the first study to demonstrate that obestatin stimulates cell migration and cell invasion. Obestatin induced a significant increase in migration in the SKOV3 ovarian cancer cell line with 10 nM (2.80 +/- 0.52 fold, p <0.05) and 100 nM treatments (3.12 +/- 0.68 fold, p <0.05) and in the OV-MZ-6 cancer cell line with 10 nM (2.04 +/- 0.10 fold, p <0.01) and 100 nM treatments (2.00 +/- 0.37 fold, p <0.05). Obestatin treatment did no affect cell migration in the hOSE 17.1normal ovarian epithelial cell line. Obestatin treatment (100 nM) also stimulated a significant increase in cell invasion in the OV-MZ-6 ovarian cancer cell line (1.45 fold +/- 0.13, p <0.05) and in the hOSE17.1 normal ovarian cell line cells (1.40 fold +/- 0.04 and 1.55 fold +/- 0.05 respectively, p <0.01) with 10 nM and 100 nM treatments. Obestatin treatment did not stimulate cell invasion in the SKOV3 ovarian cancer cell line. This lack of obestatin-stimulated invasion in the SKOV3 cell line may be a cell line specific result.

In this study, obestatin did not stimulate cell proliferation in the ovarian cell lines and it has previously been shown to have no effect on cell proliferation in the BON-1 pancreatic neuroendocrine and GC rat somatotroph tumour cell lines. In contrast, obestatin has been shown to affect cell proliferation in gastric and thyroid cancer cell lines, and in some normal cell lines. Obestatin also had no effect on attachment of any of the cell lines to any of the ECM components tested (fibronectin, vitronectin, collagen I and collagen IV).

The mechanism of action of obestatin was investigated further using a two dimensional-difference in gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) proteomic approach. After treatment with obestating (0, 10 and 100 nM), SKOV3 ovarian cancer and hOSE 17.1 normal ovarian cell lines were collected and 2D-DIGE analysis and mass spectrometry were performed to identify proteins that were differentially expressed in response to treatment. Twenty-six differentially expressed proteins were identified and analysed using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA). This linked 16 of these proteins in a network. The analysis suggested that the ERK1/2 MAPK pathway was a major mediator of obestatin action. ERK1/2 has previously been shown to be associated with obestatin-stimulated cell proliferation and with the anti-apoptotic effects of obestatin.

Activation of the ERK1/2 signalling pathway by obestatin was, therefore, investigated in the SKOV3 and OV-MZ-6 ovarian cancer cell lines using anti-active antibodies and Western immunoblots. Obestatin treatment significantly decreased ERK1/2 phosphorylation at higher obestatin concentrations in both the SKOV3 (100 nM and 1000 nM) and OV-MZ-6 (1000 nM) cell lines compared to the untreated controls. Currently, very little is known about obestatin signalling in cancer.

This thesis has demonstrated for the first time that the ghrelin axis may play a role in ovarian cancer migration. Ghrelin and obestatin increased cell migration in ovarian cancer cell lines, indicating that they may be a useful target for therapies that reduce ovarian cancer progression. Further studies investigating the role of the ghrelin axis using in vivo ovarian cancer metastasis models are warranted.

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ID Code: 63497
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Chopin, Lisa & Herington, Adrian
Keywords: ghrelin, obestatin, GHSR1a, GHSR1b, migration, invasion, proliferation, attachment, 2D-DIGE, real time RT-PCR, PCR, signalling, pathways, MAPK, ERK1/2, ovarian cancer
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 Oct 2013 04:12
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 04:06

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