Chondrosarcoma is the second most frequently occurring type of bone malignancy characterized by distant metastatic propensity. Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) is the major lymphangiogenic factor, and makes crucial contributions to tumour lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. Adiponectin is a protein hormone secreted predominantly by differentiated adipocytes. In recent years, adiponectin has also been indicated as facilitating tumorigenesis, angiogenesis and metastasis. However, the effect of adiponectin on VEGF-C regulation and lymphangiogenesis in chondrosarcoma has remained largely a mystery. In the present study, we have shown a clinical correlation between adiponectin and VEGF-C, as well as tumour stage, in human chondrosarcoma tissues. We further demonstrated that adiponectin promoted VEGF-C expression and secretion in human chondrosarcoma cells. The conditioned medium from adiponectin-treated cells significantly induced tube formation and migration of human lymphatic endothelial cells. In addition, adiponectin knock down inhibited lymphangiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. We also found that adiponectin-induced VEGF-C is mediated by the calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and p38 signaling pathway. Furthermore, the expression of miR-27b was negatively regulated by adiponectin via the CaMKII, AMPK and p38 cascade. The present study is the first to describe the mechanism of adiponectin-promoted lymphangiogenesis by up-regulating VEGF-C expression in chondrosarcomas. Thus, adiponectin could serve as a therapeutic target in chondrosarcoma metastasis and lymphangiogenesis.

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