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Open Access Research article

Dimethylaminoparthenolide and gemcitabine: a survival study using a genetically engineered mouse model of pancreatic cancer

Michele T Yip-Schneider1*, Huangbing Wu1, Keith Stantz2, Narasimhan Agaram3, Peter A Crooks8 and C Max Schmidt14567*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, 980 W. Walnut St., Building R3, Rm. 541C, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA

2 Department of Radiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

3 Department of Pathology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

4 Department of Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

5 Department of Walther Oncology Center, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

6 Indiana University Cancer Center, Indianapolis, IN, USA

7 Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indianapolis, IN, USA

8 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:194  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-194

Published: 17 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest cancers due to lack of early detection and absence of effective treatments. Gemcitabine, the current standard-of-care chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, has limited clinical benefit. Treatment of pancreatic cancer cells with gemcitabine has been shown to induce the activity of the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) which regulates the expression of genes involved in the inflammatory response and tumorigenesis. It has therefore been proposed that gemcitabine-induced NF-κB activation may result in chemoresistance. We hypothesize that NF-κB suppression by the novel inhibitor dimethylaminoparthenolide (DMAPT) may enhance the effect of gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer.

Methods

The efficacy of DMAPT and gemcitabine was evaluated in a chemoprevention trial using the mutant Kras and p53-expressing LSL-KrasG12D/+; LSL-Trp53R172H; Pdx-1-Cre mouse model of pancreatic cancer. Mice were randomized to treatment groups (placebo, DMAPT [40 mg/kg/day], gemcitabine [50 mg/kg twice weekly], and the combination DMAPT/gemcitabine). Treatment was continued until mice showed signs of ill health at which time they were sacrificed. Plasma cytokine levels were determined using a Bio-Plex immunoassay. Statistical tests used included log-rank test, ANOVA with Dunnett’s post-test, Student’s t-test, and Fisher exact test.

Results

Gemcitabine or the combination DMAPT/gemcitabine significantly increased median survival and decreased the incidence and multiplicity of pancreatic adenocarcinomas. The DMAPT/gemcitabine combination also significantly decreased tumor size and the incidence of metastasis to the liver. No significant differences in the percentages of normal pancreatic ducts or premalignant pancreatic lesions were observed between the treatment groups. Pancreata in which no tumors formed were analyzed to determine the extent of pre-neoplasia; mostly normal ducts or low grade pancreatic lesions were observed, suggesting prevention of higher grade lesions in these animals. While gemcitabine treatment increased the levels of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1α (IL-1α), IL-1β, and IL-17 in mouse plasma, DMAPT and DMAPT/gemcitabine reduced the levels of the inflammatory cytokines IL-12p40, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), macrophage inflammatory protein-1 beta (MIP-1β), eotaxin, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), all of which are NF-κB target genes.

Conclusion

In summary, these findings provide preclinical evidence supporting further evaluation of agents such as DMAPT and gemcitabine for the prevention and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Keywords:
Pancreatic cancer; Therapy; Chemoprevention; Parthenolide; Gemcitabine; NF-κB