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Original article
Pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer exosome-induced lipolysis in adipose tissue
  1. Gunisha Sagar1,
  2. Raghuwansh P Sah2,
  3. Naureen Javeed1,
  4. Shamit K Dutta1,
  5. Thomas C Smyrk3,
  6. Julie S Lau1,
  7. Nino Giorgadze4,
  8. Tamar Tchkonia4,
  9. James L Kirkland4,
  10. Suresh T Chari2,
  11. Debabrata Mukhopadhyay1
  1. 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  4. 4Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA; mukhopadhyay.debabrata{at}


Background and objectives New-onset diabetes and concomitant weight loss occurring several months before the clinical presentation of pancreatic cancer (PC) appear to be paraneoplastic phenomena caused by tumour-secreted products. Our recent findings have shown exosomal adrenomedullin (AM) is important in development of diabetes in PC. Adipose tissue lipolysis might explain early onset weight loss in PC. We hypothesise that lipolysis-inducing cargo is carried in exosomes shed by PC and is responsible for the paraneoplastic effects. Therefore, in this study we investigate if exosomes secreted by PC induce lipolysis in adipocytes and explore the role of AM in PC-exosomes as the mediator of this lipolysis.

Design Exosomes from patient-derived cell lines and from plasma of patients with PC and non-PC controls were isolated and characterised. Differentiated murine (3T3-L1) and human adipocytes were exposed to these exosomes to study lipolysis. Glycerol assay and western blotting were used to study lipolysis. Duolink Assay was used to study AM and adrenomedullin receptor (ADMR) interaction in adipocytes treated with exosomes.

Results In murine and human adipocytes, we found that both AM and PC-exosomes promoted lipolysis, which was abrogated by ADMR blockade. AM interacted with its receptor on the adipocytes, activated p38 and extracellular signal-regulated (ERK1/2) mitogen-activated protein kinases and promoted lipolysis by phosphorylating hormone-sensitive lipase. PKH67-labelled PC-exosomes were readily internalised into adipocytes and involved both caveolin and macropinocytosis as possible mechanisms for endocytosis.

Conclusions PC-secreted exosomes induce lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue; exosomal AM is a candidate mediator of this effect.


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