Combined treatment of oncolytic adenoviruses with chemotherapeutic agents is foreseen as a therapeutic option for cancer. Here we have investigated the potential to use gemcitabine in combination with the oncolytic adenovirus AduPARE1A to treat pancreatic cancer and evaluate the underlying mechanism.
We treated pancreatic cancer cell lines BxPC-3 and PANC-1 with AduPARE1A and gemcitabine individually or in combination and analyzed cell viability, combination index, apoptosis and viral production. We also investigated the effects of the combination on tumor growth and mice survival in two xenograft models. Furthermore, we analyzed uPAR promoter activity from different uPAR-controlled adenovirus and studied NF-κB mediated effects.
Synergistic cell killing from the combination AduPARE1A/Gemcitabine was observed in BxPC-3 and PANC-1 cells. Moreover, the combination treatment produced therapeutic benefits over either individual modality in two mouse models bearing orthotopic tumors, showing reduced tumor progression and significant prolonged mouse survival. Mechanistic studies showed that the synergistic cell death was not due to an increase in viral replication but occurred through an enhancement of apoptotic cell death. Gemcitabine stimulation increased the transcription of uPAR-controlled transgenes through the induction of NF-κB acting on the uPAR promoter. Interestingly, NF-κB gemcitabine-mediated induction of AduPAR adenoviruses interfered with the activation of NF-κB regulated genes, probably as a result of an intracellular competition for NF-κB DNA binding. Consequently, AduPARE1A infection sensitized cells to gemcitabine-induced apoptosis in the combined treatment.
These data highlights the potential of the combination as a treatment modality for pancreatic cancer patients.||