Aim: Epidermal growth factor (EGF) plays an important role in the regulation of gastrointestinal tissue growth and development, and it can stimulate epithelial proliferation, cell differentiation and growth. It has been established that the EGF can promote gastric cytoprotection and ulcer healing. But the potential ability of EGF to regulate the gastric cancer growth is unknown. This study is to investigate the influence of EGF on human gastric cancer cell and the implanted tumor growth of nude mice. Methods: The cell growth rates of human gastric adenocarcinoma cell lines MKN-28, MKN-45, SGC-7901 and normal human gastric epithelial cells 3T3 were assessed when incubated with recombinant human EGF (rhEGF, 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 10, 50, 100 mg.L-1) using MTT method. The cells of MKN-28, MKN-45, SGC-7901 (gastric cancer tissue 1.5 mm3) were implanted in the BALB/cA nude mice for 10 days. The EGF was given intraperitoneally (15, 30, 60 μg.kg-1) for 3 weeks. The body weights of the tumor-bearing animals and their tumor mass were measured afterwards to assess the mitogenic effect of rhEGF in the nude mice. Results: Within the concentration range of 0.05-100 mg.L-1, rhEGF could increase the cell growth of normal 3T3 cells (cell growth rate 100% vs 102.8%, P < 0.05), but partially restrain the gastric cancer cell growth. The latter effect was related to cell differentiation. In 15-60 μg/kg rhEGF groups, the mean implanted tumor mass of MKN-28 cell were 1.75 g, 1.91 g, 2.08 g/NS group 1.97 g (P > 0.05), the mean tumor mass of SGC-7901 cell were 1.53 g, 1.07 g, 1.20 g/NS group 1.07 g (P > 0.05), and for MKN-45 cell, the tumor mass were respectively 1.92 g, 1.29 g, 1.77 g/NS group 1.82 g (P > 0.05). So rhEGF had no obvious effect on implanted MKN-28, SGC-7901 and MKN-45 tumor growth. Conclusion: EGF has no stimulating effect on the human gastric cancer cell growth neither in vitro nor in vivo.
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