Smac mimetic-derived augmentation of chemotherapeutic response in experimental pancreatic cancer

Niranjan Awasthi, Amanda Kirane, Margaret A. Schwarz, Jason E. Toombs, Rolf A. Brekken, Roderich E. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is highly resistant to conventional chemotherapy, in part due to the overexpression of inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs). Smac is an endogenous IAP-antagonist, which renders synthetic Smac mimetics attractive anticancer agents. We evaluated the benefits of combining a Smac mimetic, JP1201 (JP), with conventional chemotherapy agents used for PDAC management.Methods: Cell viability assays and protein expression analysis were performed using WST-1 reagent and Western blotting, respectively. Apoptosis was detected by annexin V/propidium iodide staining. In vivo tumor growth and survival studies were performed in murine PDAC xenografts.Results: JP and gemcitabine (Gem) inhibited PDAC cell proliferation with additive effects in combination. The percentage of early apoptotic cells in controls, JP, Gem and JP + Gem was 17%, 26%, 26% and 38%, respectively. JP-induced apoptosis was accompanied by PARP-1 cleavage. Similar additive anti-proliferative effects were seen for combinations of JP with doxorubicin (Dox) and docetaxel (DT). The JP + Gem combination caused a 30% decrease in tumor size in vivo compared to controls. Median animal survival was improved significantly in mice treated with JP + Gem (38 d) compared to controls (22 d), JP (28 d) or Gem (32 d) (p = 0.01). Animal survival was also improved with JP + DT treatment (32 d) compared to controls (16 d), JP (21 d) or DT alone (27 d).Conclusions: These results warrant further exploration of strategies that promote chemotherapy-induced apoptosis of tumors and highlight the potential of Smac mimetics in clinical PDAC therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalBMC Cancer
StatePublished - Jan 12 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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