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Oncol Lett. 2014 May;7(5):1401-1408. Epub 2014 Mar 11.

Inhibition of phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway decreases hypoxia inducible factor-1α expression and increases therapeutic efficacy of paclitaxel in human hypoxic gastric cancer cells.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai 200233, P.R. China.


The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway plays an important role in cell proliferation, transformation, apoptosis, tumor growth and angiogenesis. Paclitaxel is commonly used to treat multiple human malignancies; however, the underlying mechanisms of paclitaxel in gastric cancer (GC) have not been fully investigated. In the present study, specimens from 45 GC and 36 chronic gastritis patients were collected, and the correlations of PI3K, phosphorylated-Akt (p-Akt) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) expression with the clinicopathological characteristics of GC were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. The human SGC-7901 GC cells under hypoxic conditions were pretreated with the PI3K inhibitor, LY294002 (40 μM), and paclitaxel (0.1 μM). The expression levels of PI3K, p-Akt and HIF-1α were detected by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. Cell proliferative activity and apoptosis were evaluated by the Cell Counting Kit-8 assay and flow cytometry. As a result, the rates of positive expression of PI3K, p-Akt and HIF-1α were significantly higher in GC compared with chronic gastritis patients (each P<0.01), and were positively associated with the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging, lymph node metastases, lymphatic infiltration and vascular infiltration (each P<0.01), but inversely correlated with tumor differentiation (P<0.01) in patients with GC. Under hypoxic conditions, the combined inhibition of the PI3K/Akt pathway with paclitaxel markedly reduced the proliferative activity and induced cell apoptosis in GC cells compared with the single treatment of PI3K inhibitor or paclitaxel (each P<0.01), and was accompanied by a decreased expression of HIF-1α. Overall, our findings indicate that the increased expression of the PI3K/Akt/HIF-1α pathway was closely correlated with tumor differentiation, TNM staging, lymph node metastases and lymphatic and vascular infiltration. The inhibition of the PI3K/Akt pathway enhanced the therapeutic efficacy of paclitaxel in GC cells under hypoxic conditions, suggesting that the PI3K/Akt/HIF-1α pathway may act as an important therapeutic target for paclitaxel treatment of GC.


Akt; gastric cancer; hypoxia; hypoxia inducible factor-1α; paclitaxel; phosphoinositide 3-kinase

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