Gemcitabine chemoresistance and molecular markers associated with gemcitabine transport and metabolism in human pancreatic cancer cells

Br J Cancer. 2007 Feb 12;96(3):457-63. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603559. Epub 2007 Jan 16.


To identify predictive molecular markers for gemcitabine resistance, we investigated changes in the expression of four genes associated with gemcitabine transport and metabolism during the development of acquired gemcitabine resistance of pancreatic cancer cell lines. The expression levels of human equilibrative nucleoside transporter-1 (hENT1), deoxycytidine kinase (dCK), RRM1, and RRM2 mRNA were analysed by real-time light cycler-PCR in various subclones during the development of acquired resistance to gemcitabine. Real-time light cycler-PCR demonstrated that the expression levels of either RRM1 or RRM2 progressively increased during the development of gemcitabine resistance. Expression of dCK was slightly increased in cells resistant to lower concentrations of gemcitabine, but was decreased below the undetectable level in higher concentration-resistant subclones. Expression of hENT1 was increased in the development of gemcitabine resistance. As acquired resistance to gemcitabine seems to correlate with the balance of these four factors, we calculated the ratio of hENT1 x dCK/RRM1 x RRM2 gene expression in gemcitabine-resistant subclones. The ratio of gene expression decreased progressively with development of acquired resistance in gemcitabine-resistant subclones. Furthermore, the expression ratio significantly correlated with gemcitabine sensitivity in eight pancreatic cancer cell lines, whereas no single gene expression level correlated with the sensitivity. These results suggest that the sensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine is determined by the ratio of four factors involved in gemcitabine transport and metabolism. The ratio of the four gene expression levels correlates with acquired gemcitabine-resistance in pancreatic cancer cells, and may be useful as a predictive marker for the efficacy of gemcitabine therapy in pancreatic cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Biological Transport
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / metabolism
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacology
  • Deoxycytidine Kinase / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter 1 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Ribonucleoside Diphosphate Reductase / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Biomarkers
  • Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter 1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SLC29A1 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine
  • ribonucleotide reductase M2
  • RRM1 protein, human
  • Ribonucleoside Diphosphate Reductase
  • Deoxycytidine Kinase