Gemcitabine as a molecular targeting agent that blocks the Akt cascade in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer

Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Yoshito Terai, Akiko Tanabe, Hiroshi Sasaki, Masaaki Takai, Satoe Fujiwara, Keisuke Ashihara, Yoshimichi Tanaka, Tomohito Tanaka, Satoshi Tsunetoh, Masanori Kanemura, Masahide Ohmichi
Journal of Ovarian Research 2014, 7: 38

BACKGROUND: Gemcitabine (2', 2' -difluorodeoxycytidine) is one of many nonplatinum drugs that exhibit activity in recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms by which Gemcitabine treatment inhibits the proliferation of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cells still remain unclear. We investigated whether Gemcitabine increases the efficacy of Cisplatin in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer models in vitro and in vivo.

METHODS: We used Cisplatin-resistant Caov-3 cells, A2780CP cells and Cisplatin-sensitive A2780 cells to examine the sensitivity of the cell viability of Cisplatin and Gemcitabine using a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium (MTS) assay and the sensitivity of the invasive activity of Cisplatin and Gemcitabine using an invasion assay with Matrigel. We examined the Akt kinase activity and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) expression following Cisplatin and Gemcitabine treatment using a Western blot analysis and the mRNA expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) using semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Moreover, we evaluated the effects of Cisplatin and Gemcitabine on the intra-abdominal dissemination of ovarian cancer in vivo.

RESULTS: Gemcitabine significantly inhibited Cisplatin-induced Akt activation in the Caov-3 and A2780CP cells, but not in the A2780 cells. In the presence of Gemcitabine, Cisplatin-induced growth inhibition and apoptosis were significantly enhanced in the Caov-3 and A2780CP cells. Co-treatment with Cisplatin and Gemcitabine almost completely inhibited invasion of both types of cells through the Matrigel; however, neither Cisplatin nor Gemcitabine alone inhibited the invasion of both types of cells. Gemcitabine inhibited not only the Cisplatin-induced activation of Akt, but also the MMP9 and mRNA expression of VEGF. Moreover, treatment with Gemcitabine increased the efficacy of Cisplatin-induced growth inhibition of the intra-abdominal dissemination and production of ascites in the athymic nude mice inoculated with Caov-3 cells.

CONCLUSIONS: We herein demonstrated that Gemcitabine inhibits the Akt kinase activity and angiogenetic activity following treatment with Cisplatin in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cells. These results provide a rationale for using Gemcitabine in clinical regimens containing molecular targeting agents against platinum-resistant ovarian cancers.

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