Schlafen 11 predicts response to platinum-based chemotherapy in gastric cancers

Br J Cancer. 2021 Jul;125(1):65-77. doi: 10.1038/s41416-021-01364-3. Epub 2021 Mar 30.


Background: Although unresectable or recurrent gastric cancers (GC) are frequently treated with platinum-based chemotherapy, response to treatment remains unpredictable. Because Schlafen 11 (SLFN11) is recently identified as a critical determinant of platinum sensitivity, we investigated the potential clinical utility of SLFN11 in the treatment of GC.

Methods: We analysed the correlation between SLFN11 expression and overall survival in 169 GC patients by our established immunohistochemical approach. The impact of SLFN11 expression on the response to platinum and transition of SLFN11 expression upon long-term treatment with platinum were examined using GC cell lines and organoids.

Results: GC patients with high-SLFN11 expression exhibited significantly better survival than those with low-SLFN11 expression, and the significance increased when we selected patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy. Knockout of SLFN11 and reactivation of SLFN11 in GC cells conferred resistance and sensitivity to platinum, respectively. In GC cells and organoids, long-term treatment with oxaliplatin suppressed SLFN11 expression while imparting drug resistance. The acquired resistance to oxaliplatin was reversed by reactivation of SLFN11 with epigenetic modifying drugs.

Conclusions: This is the first report revealing definitive clinical implications of SLFN11 in the treatment of GC patients and providing novel strategies for the drug selection based on SLFN11 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Platinum / pharmacology*
  • Platinum / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • SLFN11 protein, human
  • Platinum