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Doctoral candidate, University of Minnesota


ER stress and chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) have been shown to correlate with advanced stage, shorter survival, and chemoresistance in multiple cancers, including pancreatic cancer. The UPR is a homeostatic mechanism that allows cells to ameliorate stress-inducing conditions, which can result in cell survival. The activation and inactivation of UPR is regulated by glucose regulatory protein (GRP78). Our studies and others have shown that GRP78 is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer, and my work studies how.


Unfolded protein response activation contributes to chemoresistance in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Abstract: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has an annual worldwide incidence of 626 000 cases and causes 550 000 deaths per year. Although the mainstay of treatment is surgical resection, for inoperable or metastatic disease, chemotherapy may be offered. The primary agent used is doxorubicin, but response rates are poor (<20%). The unfolded protein response (UPR) is a cytoprotective cellular stress response that enables cells to survive periods of hypoxia and nutrient deprivation. The UPR may confer resistance to anticancer agents and contribute to treatment failure. This study has investigated whether the UPR is activated in HCC and whether this may contribute to doxorubicin resistance.Eighty-six human HCCs were immunohistochemically stained for glucose regulated protein 78, the key marker of UPR activation. An in-vitro model of UPR activation in HepG2 HCC cells was developed by glucose deprived culture. UPR activation was confirmed with western blotting and PCR to show overexpression of glucose regulated protein 78. The relative efficacy of doxorubicin chemotherapy on UPR-activated HepG2 cells was compared with normal HepG2 cells by use of an thiazolyl blue tetrazolium bromide colorimetric assay.Expression of glucose regulated protein 78 was shown in 100% of the HCC samples with 66% showing strong staining. In-vitro UPR activation was achieved with glucose deprivation. UPR activation induced significant resistance to doxorubicin: 34% survival under standard culture conditions versus 58% and 63% for UPR-activated cells in 0.5 and 1 mmol glucose respectively (P=0.00928).The UPR is activated in HCCs and confers resistance to chemotherapy in vitro. UPR activation may contribute to HCC chemoresistance.

Pub.: 24 Feb '10, Pinned: 06 Jul '17

Nrf2: a potential therapeutic target for naturally occurring anticancer drugs?

Abstract: Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived-2)-like 2 is one of the most efficient cytoprotective rheostats against exogenous or endogenous oxidative insults. At present, the modulation of the Nrf2 pathway represents an interesting and highly explored strategy in the oncological area. Area covered: In this review, we present and discuss the different modulation of the Nrf2 pathway by some natural compounds with a well demonstrated anticancer activity, and critically analyze the challenges associated with the development of an Nrf2-based anticancer strategy. Expert opinion: Many natural compounds with a well-defined anticancer activity are able to modulate this pathway. Both Nrf2 inducers and inhibitors can be useful as anticancer strategy. However, since Nrf2 modulates many networks potentially involved in the detoxification process of anticancer drugs, its activation in cancer cells could lead to chemoresistance. The switch between a beneficial or detrimental role of Nrf2 in cancer cells essentially depends on the tight control of its activity, the specific conditions of tumor microenvironment, and cell type. In line with the paucity of clear data related to the mechanisms underpinning the role of Nrf2 in cancer development and chemoresistance, discovery and development of Nrf2-based strategies is one of the most critical and challenging assignments for fighting cancers.

Pub.: 05 Jul '17, Pinned: 06 Jul '17