miR-222-3p-containing macrophage-derived extracellular vesicles confer gemcitabine resistance via TSC1-mediated mTOR/AKT/PI3K pathway in pancreatic cancer

Cell Biol Toxicol. 2022 Aug 17. doi: 10.1007/s10565-022-09736-y. Online ahead of print.


Gemcitabine resistance limits the efficacy of chemotherapy and maintains a challenge for treatment outcomes. Therefore, we aimed to clarify the downstream mechanisms underlying the role of miR-222-3p delivered by M2 macrophage-derived extracellular vesicles (M2 MDEs) in the chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer (PCa). We separated the mouse macrophages and polarized them to M2 phenotypes, from which the EVs were derived. miR-222-3p was highly expressed in M2 MDEs. M2 MDEs were internalized by PCa cells. miR-222-3p overexpressing M2 MDEs were treated with gemcitabine and co-cultured with PCa cells for in vitro experiments. Co-culture with M2 MDEs enriched with miR-222-3p suppressed the sensitivity to gemcitabine, accompanied by diminished apoptosis and promoted proliferation. Furthermore, the M2 MDEs and PCa cells were injected to mice with gemcitabine exposure for in vivo substantiation. The delivery of miR-222-3p inhibitor by M2 MDEs suppressed tumor growth and elevated sensitivity of cancer cells to gemcitabine. Moreover, miR-222-3p was indicated to target and suppress TSC1 expression, while miR-222-3p activated the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Together, miR-222-3p-containing M2 MDEs enhance chemoresistance in PCa through TSC1 inhibition and activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway.

Keywords: Drug resistance; Extracellular vesicles; Gemcitabine; M2 macrophages; MicroRNA-222-3p; Pancreatic cancer; TSC1.