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Mol Cancer. 2003 Sep 17;2:32.

Effects of STI571 (gleevec) on pancreatic cancer cell growth.

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Department of General Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 110, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.



Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive malignancy characterized by low responsiveness to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This resistance is partly due to the overexpression of several tyrosine kinase receptors and their ligands. STI571 has specific activity in inhibiting c-kit, PDGF and Abl receptor tyrosine kinases and has proven successful in the treatment of CML and GIST patients. Here, we investigated the potential role of STI571 in pancreatic cancer.


The GI50 of STI571 as well as the effects of STI571 on growth factor actions in pancreatic cell lines were analyzed using the MTT assay. FACS analysis using Annexin and PI staining was performed to study cell cycle, apoptosis, and cell death. Western blot analysis was carried out to investigate MAP kinase and receptor tyrosine kinase phosphorylation. STI571 inhibited cell proliferation in pancreatic cancer cell lines with GI50 concentrations ranging from 17 to 31.5 microM. EGF, IGF-1, and FGF-2 but not PDGF exerted growth stimulatory effects in pancreatic cancer cell lines. STI571 only partly blocked these effects on cell growth, and did not abrogate growth factor-induced receptor and MAPK phosphorylation.


Our data demonstrate that STI571 inhibits pancreatic cancer cell growth with high GI50 concentrations through tyrosine-kinase receptor independent pathways. The clinical application of STI571 in pancreatic cancer is therefore rather doubtful.

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