Methionine enkephalin (MENK), an endogenous opioid peptide, has a role in nervous system, immune system, and anticancer therapy. Inflammation, metabolism and cancer are closely intertwined with each other. This study is to identify the correlation of the antitumor effects of MENK with systemic inflammation, liver metabolism, and immune cells as myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). We established a subcutaneous CT26 colon carcinoma model and a cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppressive model subjected to MENK. AML12 and MDSCs were used as in vitro models. The results showed that MENK treatment degraded tumor growth and inhibited proinflammatory cytokines both in tumor tissues and serum. The MENK-treated tumor mice showed normalized liver function with glycolipid metabolic homeostasis. No inhibitory effect on CT26 tumor cell in vitro, but only reduced lipid synthesis in AML12 were presented by MENK. Meanwhile, MENK invigorated immune response in both two animal models by markedly suppressing MDSCs and enhancing T cells response. In vitro MENK-treated MDSCs showed reduced glycolysis and less ROS production, which was mediated by PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone reversed most of the regulation. These results illustrate that MENK preventing development of colon carcinoma might be correlated with the suppression of inflammation, improving metabolism in liver as well as in MDSCs partly through opioid receptor, which brings new elements supporting the adjuvant therapy for tumor by MENK.
©2020 Society for Leukocyte Biology.