Combination of a novel microtubule inhibitor MBRI-001 and gemcitabine synergistically induces cell apoptosis by increasing DNA damage in pancreatic cancer cell lines


Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a highly malignant cancer with poor prognosis. Although gemcitabine (GEM; 2′,2′-difluoro-deoxycytidine) has been used as the first-line chemotherapeutic agent in PC treatment for decades, its limited efficacy remains a significant clinical issue, which may be resolved by GEM combination therapy. In this study, we aimed to investigate the anti-tumor effects of MBRI-001 in combination with GEM in BxPC-3 and MIA PaCa-2 human PC cell lines. In vitro and in vivo results indicate that MBRI-001 showed synergistic activity with GEM. GEM induced apoptosis by increasing DNA damage (phosphorylated core histone protein H2AX (γ-H2AX)), MBRI-001 activated mitochondrial-apoptotic pathway (cleaved poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP)). Thus, the combination of the two intensified both apoptosis and DNA damage and showed significantly superior anti-tumor activity compared to each agent alone. The adoption of combination of MBRI-001 with GEM may be beneficial as they act synergistically and thus, can be a potential therapeutic choice for improving the prognosis of PC patients in the future.

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This work was supported by “Zhufeng Scholar Program” of Ocean University of China (841412016), and Aoshan Talents Cultivation Program of Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (No. 2017ASTCP-OS08) to Dr. Wenbao Li.

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Correspondence to Jinbo Yang or Wenbao Li.

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All applicable national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

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Liu, Y., Zang, R., Li, F. et al. Combination of a novel microtubule inhibitor MBRI-001 and gemcitabine synergistically induces cell apoptosis by increasing DNA damage in pancreatic cancer cell lines. Invest New Drugs 38, 1207–1217 (2020).

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  • Pancreatic cancer
  • MBRI-001
  • Gemcitabine
  • DNA damage
  • Apoptosis