Aims: As activation and overexpression of the cholecystokinin-2 (CCK-2)/gastrin receptor can lead to carcinogenesis, it has been explored as a therapeutic target in pancreatic cancer. We demonstrated that Z-360, a CCK-2/gastrin receptor antagonist, combined with gemcitabine prolonged survival and reduced gemcitabine-induced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in a pancreatic carcinoma orthotopic xenograft mouse. In this study, we investigated the role of the CCK-2/gastrin signaling pathway on gemcitabine-induced VEGF expression in PANC-1 human pancreatic carcinoma cells. Main methods: In PANC-1 cells treated with Z-360, anti-gastrin IgG or kinase inhibitors, the gene expression levels were analyzed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR, and the protein levels of Akt and phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) in cellular extracts were measured by ELISA. Key findings: Gemcitabine-induced expression of VEGF and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha) were suppressed by the treatment with an anti-gastrin antibody. In addition, VEGF and HIF-1 alpha gene expression was inhibited by treatment with an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), which is involved in the downstream signaling pathway of the CCK-2/gastrin receptor, and was also suppressed by treatment with Z-360. Moreover, although Akt phosphorylation was increased by treatment with gemcitabine, this elevation was partially, but significantly, inhibited by an exposure of Z-360. Significance: Gemcitabine might induce gene expression of VEGF via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway in the downstream of the CCK-2/gastrin receptor. The suppression of the CCK-2/gastrin signaling pathway by treatment with Z-360 could be a useful approach for potentiating prolonged survival of pancreatic cancer patients receiving gemcitabine therapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)