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AAPS J. 2014 Mar;16(2):246-57. doi: 10.1208/s12248-013-9558-3. Epub 2014 Jan 15.

Antitumor activity of gemcitabine can be potentiated in pancreatic cancer through modulation of TLR4/NF-κB signaling by 6-shogaol.

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State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, China Pharmaceutical University, No. 24 Tongjia Lane, Nanjing, 210009, China.


Advanced pancreatic cancer still has a poor prognosis, even with the approval of several drugs, such as gemcitabine. Therefore, developing effective and safe antitumor agents is urgently needed. 6-Shogaol, a phenol extracted from ginger, has been linked to suppression of proliferation and survival of cancer with different mechanisms. In the present study, we investigated whether 6-shogaol could suppress pancreatic cancer progress and potentiate pancreatic cancer to gemcitabine treatment in vitro and in vivo. We found that 6-shogaol prevented the activation of toll like receptor 4 (TLR4)/NF-κB signaling. The modulation of NF-κB signaling by 6-shogaol was ascertained by electrophoretic mobility shift assay and western blot analysis. The suppression of NF-κB signaling and key cell survival regulators including COX-2, cyclinD1, survivin, cIAP-1, XIAP, Bcl-2, and MMP-9 brought the anti-proliferation effects in pancreatic cancer cells and sensitized them to gemcitabine treatment. Furthermore, in a pancreatic cancer xenograft model, we found a decreased proliferation index (Ki-67) and increased apoptosis by TUNEL staining in 6-shogaol treated tumors. It was also shown that 6-shogaol combined with gemcitabine treatment was more effective than drug alone, consistent with the downregulation of NF-κB activity along with its target genes COX-2, cyclinD1, survivin, cIAP-1, and XIAP. Overall, our results suggest that 6-shogaol can inhibit the growth of human pancreatic tumors and sensitize them to gemcitabine by suppressing of TLR4/NF-κB-mediated inflammatory pathways linked to tumorigenesis.

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