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PLOS ONE  2012 

Pristimerin Causes G1 Arrest, Induces Apoptosis, and Enhances the Chemosensitivity to Gemcitabine in Pancreatic Cancer Cells

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043826

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Despite rapid advances in chemotherapy and surgical resection strategies, pancreatic cancer remains the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States with a 5-year survival rate of less than 5%. Therefore, novel therapeutic agents for the prevention and treatment of pancreatic cancer are urgently needed. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of pristimerin, a quinonemethide triterpenoid compound isolated from Celastraceae and Hippocrateaceae, on inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis in three pancreatic cancer cells, BxPC-3, PANC-1 and AsPC-1, in both monotherapy and in combination with gemcitabine. Treatment with pristimerin decreased the cell proliferation of all three pancreatic cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Treatment of pancreatic cancer cells with pristimerin also resulted in G1-phase arrest which was strongly associated with a marked decrease in the level of cyclins (D1 and E) and cyclin-dependent kinases (cdk2, cdk4 and cdk6 ) with concomitant induction of WAF1/p21 and KIP1/p27. Pristimerin treatment also resulted in apoptotic cell death, cleavage of caspase-3, modulation in the expressions of Bcl-2 family proteins, inhibition of the translocation and DNA-binding activity of NF-κB. In addition, pristimerin potentiated the growth inhibition and apoptosis inducing effects of gemcitabine in all three pancreatic cancer cells, at least in part, by inhibiting constitutive as well as gemcitabine-induced activation of NF-κB in both its DNA-binding activity and transcriptional activity. Taken together, these data provide the first evidence that pristimerin has strong potential for development as a novel agent against pancreatic cancer.


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