Contrary regulation of bladder cancer cell proliferation and invasion by dexamethasone-mediated glucocorticoid receptor signals

Yichun Zheng, Koji Izumi, Yi Li, Hitoshi Ishiguro, Hiroshi Miyamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


In patients with advanced bladder cancer, glucocorticoids are frequently given to reduce acute toxicity, particularly hyperemesis, during chemotherapy, as well as to improve cachectic conditions. However, it remains unclear whether glucocorticoids directly affect the development and progression of bladder cancer through the glucocorticoid receptor pathway. Glucocorticoid receptor expression was first investigated in human bladder cancer lines and tissue microarrays. Then, the effects of dexamethasone on glucocorticoid receptor transcription, cell proliferation, apoptosis/cell cycle, and invasion were examined in bladder cancer lines. Finally, mouse xenograft models for bladder cancer were used to assess the efficacy of dexamethasone on tumor progression. All the cell lines and tissues examined were found to express glucocorticoid receptor. Dexamethasone increased glucocorticoid receptor-mediated reporter activity and cell proliferation, and inhibited apoptosis in the presence or absence of cisplatin. In contrast, dexamethasone suppressed cell invasion, the expression of its related genes [MMP-2/MMP-9, interleukin (IL)-6, VEGF], and the activity of MMP-2/MMP-9, and also induced mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition. In addition, dexamethasone increased IκBα protein levels and cytosolic accumulation of NF-κB. In xenograft-bearing mice, dexamethasone slightly augmented the growth of the inoculated tumors but completely prevented the development of bloody ascites, suggestive of peritoneal dissemination of tumor cells, and actual metastasis. In all these assays, dexamethasone effects were abolished by a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist or glucocorticoid receptor knockdown via RNA interference. Thus, glucocorticoid receptor activation resulted in promotion of cell proliferation via inhibiting apoptosis yet repression of cell invasion and metastasis. These results may provide a basis of developing improved chemotherapy regimens, including or excluding glucocorticoid receptor agonists/antagonists, for urothelial carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2621-2632
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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