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Traditional Chinese medicine Astragalus polysaccharide enhanced antitumor effects of the angiogenesis inhibitor apatinib in pancreatic cancer cells on proliferation, invasiveness, and apoptosis

Authors Wu J, Wang J, Su Q, Ding W, Li T, Yu J, Cao B

Received 15 November 2017

Accepted for publication 20 March 2018

Published 9 May 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 2685—2698


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Ms Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Ingrid Espinoza

Jun Wu,1 Jing Wang,1 Qiang Su,1 Wei Ding,2 Teng Li,1 Junxian Yu,3 Bangwei Cao1

1Cancer Center, Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China; 2Department of Pharmacy, Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China; 3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China

Background: Traditional chemotherapy and molecular targeted therapy have shown modest effects on the survival of patients with pancreatic cancer. The current study aimed to investigate the antitumor effects of apatinib, Astragalus polysaccharide (APS), and the combination of both the drugs in pancreatic cancer cells and further explore the molecular mechanisms in vitro.
Materials and methods: Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) in human pancreatic cancer cell lines ASPC-1, PANC-1, and SW1990 was detected by Western blotting. Cell proliferation was measured by MTS, and migration and invasion were detected by wound-healing and Transwell assays, respectively. Cell apoptosis rate was determined by flow cytometry and cellular autophagy level affected by apatinib, and APS was analyzed by Western blotting.
Results: Human pancreatic cancer cell lines ASPC-1 and PANC-1 expressed VEGFR-2, but VEGFR-2 was not detected in SW1990. Either apatinib or APS inhibited cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner in ASPC-1 and PANC-1. APS in combination with apatinib showed enhanced inhibitory effects on cell migration and invasion compared with apatinib monotherapy in ASPC-1 and PANC-1. Meanwhile, APS combined with apatinib strongly increased cell apoptosis percentage. Western blotting showed that the combination of APS and apatinib significantly enhanced the downregulation of phosphorylated protein kinase B (AKT) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) (p-AKT and p-ERK) as well as matrix metalloproteinases-9 (MMP-9) expression. In addition, both apatinib and APS induced cellular autophagy. However, the expression of autophagy-related proteins was not further elevated in the combination group.
Conclusion: The study first demonstrated that apatinib showed potentially inhibitory effects in pancreatic cancer cells and that APS enhanced the antitumor effects of apatinib through further downregulating the expression of phosphorylation of AKT and ERK as well as MMP-9.

Keywords: AKT, ERK, digestive tumor, molecular mechanisms, molecular targeted therapy, basic medical research, anti-angiogenesis drug

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