Radiosensitization of Pancreatic Cancer Cells In Vitro and In Vivo through Poly (ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibition with ABT-888

May 13, 2014


To determine whether poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase-1/2 (PARP-1/2) inhibition enhances radiation-induced cytotoxicity of pancreatic adenocarcinoma in vitro and in vivo, and the mechanism by which this occurs.


Pancreatic carcinoma cells were treated with ABT-888, radiation, or both. In vitro cell viability, apoptosis, and PARP activity were measured. Orthotopic xenografts were generated in athymic mice and treated with ABT-888 (25mg/kg), radiation (5Gy), both, or no treatment. Mice were monitored with bioluminescence imaging.


In vitro, treatment with ABT-888 and radiation led to higher rates of cell death after 8days (P < .01). Co-treatment with 5Gy and 1, 10 or 100μmol/l of ABT-888 led to dose enhancement factors of 1.29, 1.41 and 2.36, respectively. Caspase activity was not significantly increased when treated with ABT-888 (10 μmol/l) alone (1.28-fold, P = .08), but became significant when radiation was added (2.03-fold, P < .01). PARP activity increased post-radiation and was abrogated following co-treatment with ABT-888. In vivo, treatment with ABT-888, radiation or both led to tumor growth inhibition (TGI) of 8, 30 and 39days, and survival at 60days of 0%, 0% and 40%, respectively.


ABT-888 with radiation significantly enhanced tumor response in vitro and in vivo. ABT-888 inhibited PAR protein polymerization resulting in dose-dependent feedback up-regulation of PARP and p-ATM suggesting increased DNA damage. This translated into enhancement in TGI and survival with radiation in vivo. In vitro PAR levels correlated with levels of tumor apoptosis suggesting potential as a predictive biomarker. These data are being used to support a Phase I study in locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

Tuli R, Surmak AJ, Reyes J, Armour M, Hacker-Prietz A, Wong J, DeWeese TL & Herman JM.

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