Co-targeting of CXCR4 and hedgehog pathways disrupts tumor-stromal crosstalk and improves chemotherapeutic efficacy in pancreatic cancer

Academic Article


  • Pancreatic cancer (PC) remains a therapeutic challenge because of its intrinsic and extrinsic chemoresistance mechanisms. Here, we report that C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) and hedgehog pathways cooperate in PC chemoresistance via bidirectional tumor-stromal crosstalk. We show that when PC cells are co-cultured with pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) they are significantly more resistant to gemcitabine toxicity than those grown in monoculture. We also demonstrate that this co-culture-induced chemoresistance is abrogated by inhibition of the CXCR4 and hedgehog pathways. Similarly, the co-culture-induced altered expression of genes in PC cells associated with gemcitabine metabolism, antioxidant defense, and cancer stemness is also reversed upon CXCR4 and hedgehog inhibition. We have confirmed the functional impact of these genetic alterations by measuring gemcitabine metabolites, reactive oxygen species production, and sphere formation in vehicle- or gemcitabine-treated monocultures and co-cultured PC cells. Treatment of orthotopic pancreatic tumor- bearing mice with gemcitabine alone or in combination with a CXCR4 antagonist (AMD3100) or hedgehog inhibitor (GDC-0449) displays reduced tumor growth. Notably, we show that the triple combination treatment is the most effective, resulting in nearly complete suppression of tumor growth. Immunohistochemical analysis of Ki67 and cleaved caspase-3 confirm these findings from in vivo imaging and tumor measurements. Our findings provide preclinical and mechanistic evidence that a combination of gemcitabine treatment with targeted inhibition of both the CXCR4 and hedgehog pathways improves outcomes in a PC mouse model.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Khan MA; Srivastava SK; Zubair H; Patel GK; Arora S; Moh'd K; Carter JE; Gorman GS; Singh S; Singh AP
  • Start Page

  • 8413
  • End Page

  • 8424
  • Volume

  • 295
  • Issue

  • 25