SerpinB3 induces dipeptidyl-peptidase IV/CD26 expression and its metabolic effects in hepatocellular carcinoma

Silvano Fasolato, Elisabetta Trevellin, Mariagrazia Ruvoletto, Marnie Granzotto, Giacomo Zanus, Elisa Boscaro, Enrico Babetto, Liliana Terrin, Maria Alberta Battocchio, Francesco Ciscato, Cristian Turato, Santina Quarta, Umberto Cillo, Patrizia Pontisso, Roberto Vettor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIMS: In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the regulatory protease Dipeptidyl-peptidase IV (DPPIV/CD26), that possesses pro-apoptotic properties, has been found abnormally regulated. The protease inhibitor SerpinB3, exerting anti-apoptotic activity, has also been described to be upregulated, especially in HCCs with poor prognosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible relationship between these two molecules in HCC patients and in experimental models.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: DPPIV/CD26 and SerpinB3 expression was measured in liver specimens of 67 patients with HCC. HepG2 and Huh7 cells, stably transfected to overexpress SerpinB3, and respective control cells were used to assess biological and metabolic modifications of DPPIV/CD26 activity induced by this serpin.

KEY FINDINGS: DPPIV/CD26 and SerpinB3 were localized in the same tumoral areas and both molecules were correlated with the grade of tumor differentiation, with the highest values detected in GI tumors. Cell lines over-expressing SerpinB3 displayed upregulation of DPPIV/CD26, likely as a feedback mechanism, due to the DPPIV/CD26 protease activity inhibition by SerpinB3, as confirmed by the similar behavior induced by the inhibitor Sitagliptin. Moreover, they exhibited lower glycogen storage and higher lipid accumulation, typical effects of DPPIV/CD26.

SIGNIFICANCE: A close connection between SerpinB3 and DPPPIV has been identified, but further studies are required to better understand the mechanism by which these proteins communicate and exert metabolic effects in HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalLife Sciences
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018


  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm/metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular/metabolism
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4/biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Glycogen/metabolism
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism/drug effects
  • Liver Neoplasms/metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins/metabolism
  • Serpins/metabolism
  • Sitagliptin Phosphate/pharmacology


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