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Therapeutic targeting of Neu1 sialidase with oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu®) disables cancer cell survival in human pancreatic cancer with acquired chemoresistance

Authors O'Shea L, Abdulkhalek S, Allison S, Neufeld RJ, Szewczuk M

Received 3 October 2013

Accepted for publication 20 November 2013

Published 16 January 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 117—134

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OTT.S55344

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4


Leah K O'Shea,1 Samar Abdulkhalek,1 Stephanie Allison,2 Ronald J Neufeld,2 Myron R Szewczuk1

1Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, 2Department of Chemical Engineering, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada

Background: Resistance to drug therapy, along with high rates of metastasis, contributes to the low survival rate in patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. An alternate treatment for human pancreatic cancer involving targeting of Neu1 sialidase with oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu®) was investigated in human pancreatic cancer (PANC1) cells with acquired resistance to cisplatin and gemcitabine. Its efficacy in overcoming the intrinsic resistance of the cell to chemotherapeutics and metastasis was evaluated.
Methods: Microscopic imaging, immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and WST-1 cell viability assays were used to evaluate cell survival, morphologic changes, and expression levels of E-cadherin, N-cadherin, and VE-cadherin before and after treatment with oseltamivir phosphate in PANC1 cells with established resistance to cisplatin, gemcitabine, or a combination of the two agents, and in archived paraffin-embedded PANC1 tumors grown in RAGxCγ double mutant mice.
Results: Oseltamivir phosphate overcame the chemoresistance of PANC1 to cisplatin and gemcitabine alone or in combination in a dose-dependent manner, and disabled the cancer cell survival mechanism(s). Oseltamivir phosphate also reversed the epithelial-mesenchymal transition characteristic of the phenotypic E-cadherin to N-cadherin changes associated with resistance to drug therapy. Low-dose oseltamivir phosphate alone or in combination with gemcitabine in heterotopic xenografts of PANC1 tumors growing in RAGxCγ double mutant mice did not prevent metastatic spread to the liver and lung.
Conclusion: Therapeutic targeting of Neu1 sialidase with oseltamivir phosphate at the growth factor receptor level disables the intrinsic signaling platform for cancer cell survival in human pancreatic cancer with acquired chemoresistance. These findings provide evidence for oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu) as a potential therapeutic agent for pancreatic cancer resistant to drug therapy.

Keywords: human pancreatic cancer, cancer cell survival, chemoresistance, PANC1 cell lines

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