Rebamipide, a mucosal-protective agent, is used clinically for treatment of gastritis and peptic ulcers induced by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) which is associated with increased risk of gastric cancer. Although rebamipide is known to inhibit the growth of gastric cancer cells, the action mechanisms of rebamipide in gastric carcinogenesis remains elusive. Here, we show that rebamipide suppresses H. pylori CagA-induced β-catenin and its target cancer-initiating cells (C-IC) marker gene expression via upregulation of miRNA-320a and -4496. Rebamipide attenuated in vitro self-renewal capacity of H. pylori CagA-infected gastric C-IC via modulation of miRNA-320a/-4496-β-catenin signaling axis. Moreover, rebamipide enhanced sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs in CagA-expressed gastric C-IC. Furthermore, rebamipide suppressed tumor-initiating capacity of gastric C-IC, probably via suppression of CagA-induced C-IC properties. These data provide novel insights for the efficacy of rebamipide as a chemoprotective drug against H. pylori CagA-induced carcinogenic potential.
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