Molecular evidence for increased antitumor activity of gemcitabine by genistein in vitro and in vivo using an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer.
Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 1;65(19):9064-72. PMID: 16204081
Department of Pathology, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.
Soy isoflavone genistein exhibits growth inhibitory activity against human pancreatic cancer cell lines. We previously reported the potential of genistein to augment chemotherapeutic response of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro. In the present study, we investigated whether genistein pretreatment could be used as a novel strategy for gemcitabine-induced killing in vitro and enhanced antitumor activity in vivo using an orthotopic tumor model. We conducted our studies using paired isogenic human pancreatic cancer cell line with differences in metastatic behavior (COLO 357 and L3.6pl). In vitro studies were done to measure growth inhibition and degree of apoptotic cell death induced by either genistein alone, gemcitabine alone, or genistein followed by gemcitabine. Our results show that pretreatment of cells with genistein for 24 hours followed by gemcitabine resulted in 60% to 80% growth inhibition compared with 25% to 30% when gemcitabine was used alone. The overall growth inhibition was directly correlated with apoptotic cell death irrespective of the metastatic potential of cells. Several genes that are known to inhibit apoptosis and contribute to chemoresistance such as nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and Akt were assessed to investigate the basis for the observed chemosensitizing effects of genistein. Genistein potentiated the gemcitabine-induced killing by down-regulation of NF-kappaB and Akt. In contrast, Akt and NF-kappaB were found to be up-regulated when pancreatic cancer cells were exposed to gemcitabine alone, suggesting the potential mechanism of acquired chemoresistance. In addition to in vitro results, we show here for the first time, that genistein in combination with gemcitabine is much more effective as an antitumor agent compared with either agent alone in our orthotopic tumor model. But most importantly, our data also showed that a specific target, such as NF-kappaB, was inactivated in genistein-treated animal tumors and that gemcitabine-induced activation of NF-kappaB was completely inhibited in animal tumors treated with genistein and gemcitabine. These results provide strong molecular in vivo evidence in support of our hypothesis that inactivation of NF-kappaB signaling pathway by genistein could also abrogate gemcitabine-induced activation of NF-kappaB resulting in the chemosensitization of pancreatic tumors to gemcitabine, which is likely to be an important and novel strategy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.