MicroRNA-21 in pancreatic cancer: correlation with clinical outcome and pharmacologic aspects underlying its role in the modulation of gemcitabine activity
Giovannetti E, Funel N, Peters GJ, Del Chiaro M, Erozenci LA, Vasile E, Leon LG, Pollina LE, Groen A, Falcone A, Danesi R, Campani D, Verheul HM, Boggi U
Cancer Res. 2010 Jun 1;70(11):4528-38
MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) was reported to be overexpressed and contributes to invasion and gemcitabine resistance in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The aim of this study was to evaluate whether miR-21 expression was associated with the overall survival (OS) of PDAC patients treated with gemcitabine and to provide mechanistic insights for new therapeutic targets. miR-21 expression was evaluated in cells (including 7 PDAC cell lines, 7 primary cultures, fibroblasts, and a normal pancreatic ductal cell line) and tissues (neoplastic specimens from 81 PDAC patients and normal ductal samples) isolated by laser microdissection.
The role of miR-21 on the pharmacologic effects of gemcitabine was studied with a specific miR-21 precursor (pre-miR-21). Patients with high miR-21 expression had a significantly shorter OS both in the metastatic and in the adjuvant setting. Multivariate analysis confirmed the prognostic significance of miR-21. miR-21 expression in primary cultures correlated with expression in their respective tissues and with gemcitabine resistance. Pre-miR-21 transfection significantly decreased antiproliferative effects and apoptosis induction by gemcitabine, whereas matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2/MMP-9 and vascular endothelial growth factor expression were upregulated.
Addition of inhibitors of phosphoinositide 3-kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin resulted in decrease of phospho-Akt and prevented pre-miR-21-induced resistance to the proapoptotic effects of gemcitabine. miR-21 expression correlated with outcome in PDAC patients treated with gemcitabine. Modulation of apoptosis, Akt phosphorylation, and expression of genes involved in invasive behavior may contribute to the role of miR-21 in gemcitabine chemoresistance and to the rational development of new targeted combinations.