Dissociation of gemcitabine sensitivity and protein kinase B signaling in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma models

Pancreas. 2007 Oct;35(3):e16-26. doi: 10.1097/mpa.0b013e318095a747.


Objective: To understand the impact of protein kinase B (PKB; Akt) signaling on growth and protection from apoptosis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma models demonstrating differences in PKB activity.

Methods: Gemcitabine sensitivity was investigated in a panel of cell lines, characterized by differences in levels of activated PKB. Suppression of PKB activity was achieved with an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (wortmannin) and silencing RNA.

Results: Enhanced gemcitabine (2',2'-difluoro-2'-deoxycytidine)-induced cytotoxicity in vitro was achieved with suppression of high PKB activity with wortmannin in BxPC-3, PK-1, and PK-8 cells and silencing RNA targeted to total PKB, rather than PKBbeta, in PANC-1 cells. Opposite to gemcitabine sensitivity levels in vitro, the growth of PANC-1 xenografts was inhibited with gemcitabine treatment, whereas BxPC-3 became drug resistant. Monolayer cell cultures reestablished from solid tumors behaved similarly to original cultures, suggesting that the tumor microenvironment has a critical role in determining drug sensitivity. A comparison of transcript profiles of the models indicated that PKB signaling might be modulated by a number of pathways responsive to the tumor hypoxia microenvironment.

Conclusions: These results suggested that gemcitabine efficacy involving the PKB pathway depends on PKB activity, its mechanisms of enhanced activity, as well as its function in a signaling network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androstadienes / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / enzymology*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cell Line, Tumor / enzymology
  • Cell Line, Tumor / transplantation
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacokinetics
  • Deoxycytidine / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / physiology*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Wortmannin
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Androstadienes
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine
  • AKT1 protein, human
  • AKT2 protein, human
  • AKT3 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Wortmannin