Research Papers:

Gemcitabine triggers angiogenesis-promoting molecular signals in pancreatic cancer cells: Therapeutic implications

Mohammad Aslam Khan _, Sanjeev K. Srivastava, Arun Bhardwaj, Seema Singh, Sumit Arora, Haseeb Zubair, James E. Carter and Ajay P. Singh

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:39140-39150. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3784

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Mohammad Aslam Khan1,*, Sanjeev K. Srivastava1,*, Arun Bhardwaj1, Seema Singh1, Sumit Arora1, Haseeb Zubair1, James E. Carter2, Ajay P. Singh1,3

1Department of Oncologic Sciences, Mitchell Cancer Institute, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, USA

2Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, USA

3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Ajay P. Singh, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: pancreatic cancer, gemcitabine, angiogenesis, IL-8

Received: March 11, 2015     Accepted: April 10, 2015     Published: April 23, 2015


Pancreatic tumor microenvironment (TME) is characterized by poor tumor-vasculature and extensive desmoplasia that together contribute to poor response to chemotherapy. It was recently shown that targeting of TME to inhibit desmoplasiatic reaction in a preclinical model resulted in increased microvessel-density and intratumoral drug concentration, leading to improved therapeutic response. This approach; however, failed to generate a favorable response in clinical trial. In that regard, we have previously demonstrated a role of gemcitabine-induced CXCR4 signaling as a counter-defense mechanism, which also promoted invasiveness of pancreatic cancer (PC) cells. Here, we investigated the effect of gemcitabine on endothelial cell phenotype. Gemcitabine-treatment of human-umbilical-vein-endothelial-cells (HUVECs) did not promote the growth of HUVECs; however, it was induced when treated with conditioned media from gemcitabine-treated (Gem-CM) PC cells due to increased cell-cycle progression and apoptotic-resistance. Moreover, treatment of HUVECs with Gem-CM resulted in capillary-like structure (CLS) formation and promoted their ability to migrate and invade through extracellular-matrix. Gemcitabine-treatment of PC cells induced expression of various growth factors/cytokines, including IL-8, which exhibited greatest upregulation. Further, IL-8 depletion in Gem-CM diminished its potency to promote angiogenic phenotypes. Together, these findings suggest an indirect effect of gemcitabine on angiogenesis, which, in light of our previous observations, may hold important clinical significance.

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