Antiproliferative effects of carbon monoxide on pancreatic cancer

Libor Vítek*, Helena Gbelcová, Lucie Muchová, Kateřina Váňová, Jaroslav Zelenka, Renata Koníčková, Jakub Šuk, Marie Zadinova, Zdeněk Knejzlík, Shakil Ahmad, Takeshi Fujisawa, Asif Ahmed, Tomáš Ruml

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Carbon monoxide, the gaseous product of heme oxygenase, is a signalling molecule with a broad spectrum of biological activities. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of carbon monoxide on proliferation of human pancreatic cancer. Methods: In vitro studies were performed on human pancreatic cancer cells (CAPAN-2, BxPc3, and PaTu-8902) treated with a carbon monoxide-releasing molecule or its inactive counterpart, or exposed to carbon monoxide gas (500. ppm/24. h). For in vivo studies, pancreatic cancer cells (CAPAN-2/PaTu-8902) were xenotransplanted subcutaneously into athymic mice, subsequently treated with carbon monoxide-releasing molecule (35. mg/kg b.w. i.p./day), or exposed to safe doses of carbon monoxide (500. ppm 1. h/day; n=. 6 in each group). Results: Both carbon monoxide-releasing molecule and carbon monoxide exposure significantly inhibited proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cells (p<0.05). A substantial decrease in Akt phosphorylation was observed in carbon monoxide-releasing molecule compared with inactive carbon monoxide-releasing molecule treated cancer cells (by 30-50%, p<. 0.05). Simultaneously, carbon monoxide-releasing molecule and carbon monoxide exposure inhibited tumour proliferation and microvascular density of xenotransplanted tumours (p<0.01), and doubled the survival rates (p<0.005). Exposure of mice to carbon monoxide led to an almost 3-fold increase in carbon monoxide content in tumour tissues (p=0.006). Conclusion: These data suggest a new biological function for carbon monoxide in carcinogenesis, and point to the potential chemotherapeutic/chemoadjuvant use of carbon monoxide in pancreatic cancer. © 2013 Editrice Gastroenterologica Italiana S.r.l.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-375
Number of pages7
JournalDigestive and Liver Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding: Czech Ministry of Health (conceptual development of research organization RVO-VFN64165/2013); Czech Ministry of Education (LH11030); and Charles University in Prague (PRVOUK-P25/LF1/2, SVV 266516/2013)


  • anticancer effects
  • Heme catabolic pathway
  • Heme oxygenase


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