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Redox Biol. 2019 Jan 30;22:101131. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2019.101131. [Epub ahead of print]

Digoxin sensitizes gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine via inhibiting Nrf2 signaling pathway.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Department of Physiology, China Pharmaceutical University, Jiangsu, Nanjing 210009, China.
2
State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Department of Physiology, China Pharmaceutical University, Jiangsu, Nanjing 210009, China. Electronic address: ronghu@cpu.edu.cn.

Abstract

Chemoresistance is a major therapeutic obstacle in the treatment of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). As an oxidative stress responsive transcription factor, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates the expression of cytoprotective genes. Nrf2 not only plays a critical role in chemoprevention, but also contributes to chemoresistance. In this study, we found that digoxin markedly reversed drug resistance of gemcitabine by inhibiting Nrf2 signaling in SW1990/Gem and Panc-1/Gem cells. Further research revealed that digoxin regulated Nrf2 at transcriptional level. In in vivo study, we found that digoxin and gemcitabine in combination inhibited tumor growth more substantially when compared with gemcitabine treatment alone in SW1990/Gem-shControl cells-derived xenografts. In the meantime, SW1990/Gem-shNrf2 cells-derived xenografts responded to gemcitabine and combination treatment similarly, suggesting that digoxin sensitized gemcitabine-resistant human pancreatic cancer to gemcitabine, which was Nrf2 dependent. These results demonstrated that digoxin might be used as a promising adjuvant sensitizer to reverse chemoresistance of gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer to gemcitabine via inhibiting Nrf2 signaling.

KEYWORDS:

Chemoresistance; Digoxin; Gemcitabine; Nrf2; Pancreatic cancer cells

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