Background Necroptosis is a form of programmed cell death that is accompanied by release of intracellular contents, and reportedly contributes to various diseases. Here, we investigate the significance of necroptosis in pancreatic cancer. Methods We used immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis to evaluate expression of the key mediators of necroptosis—receptor-interacting serine/threonine protein kinase 3 (RIP3) and mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL)—in human pancreatic cancer. We also tested the effects of conditioned media (CM) from necroptotic cells on pancreatic cancer cells in Transwell migration and Matrigel invasion assays. Protein array analysis was used to investigate possible mediators derived from necroptotic cells. Results RIP3 and MLKL are highly expressed in human pancreatic cancer tissues compared with normal pancreas. MLKL expression was particularly intense at the tumor invasion front. CM derived from necroptotic cells promoted cancer cell migration and invasion, but not CM derived from apoptotic cells. C-X-C motif chemokine 5 (CXCL5) was upregulated in CM derived from necroptotic cells compared with CM derived from control or apoptotic cells. Moreover, expression of the receptor for CXCL5, C-X-C-motif chemokine receptor-2 (CXCR2), was upregulated in pancreatic cancer cells. Inhibition of CXCR2 suppressed cancer cell migratory and invasive behavior enhanced by necroptosis. Conclusion These findings indicate that necroptosis at the pancreatic cancer invasion front can promote cancer cell migration and invasion via the CXCL5–CXCR2 axis.
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