Pancreatic stellate cells (PSC) have been recognized as the principal cells responsible for the production of fibrosis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Recently, PSCs have been noted to share characteristics with cells of monocyte-macrophage lineage (MML cells). Thus, we tested whether PSCs could be targeted with the nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates (NBP; pamidronate or zoledronic acid), which are potent MML cell inhibitors. In addition, we tested NBPs treatment combination with nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel (nab-paclitaxel) to enhance antitumor activity. In vitro, we observed that PSCs possess α-naphthyl butyrate esterase (ANBE) enzyme activity, a specific marker of MML cells. Moreover, NBPs inhibited PSCs proliferation, activation, release of macrophage chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and type I collagen expression. NBPs also induced PSCs apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest in the G1 phase. In vivo, NBPs inactivated PSCs; reduced fibrosis; inhibited tumor volume, tumor weight, peritoneal dissemination, angiogenesis, and cell proliferation; and increased apoptosis in an orthotopic murine model of PDAC. These in vivo antitumor effects were enhanced when NBPs were combined with nab-paclitaxel but not gemcitabine. Our study suggests that targeting PSCs and tumor cells with NBPs in combination with nab-paclitaxel may be a novel therapeutic approach to PDAC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research