Combinatorial therapies improve the therapeutic efficacy of nanoliposomal ceramide for pancreatic cancer

 Abstract

Poor prognosis cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, represent inherent challenges for ceramide-based nanotherapeutics due to metabolic pathways, which neutralize ceramide to less toxic or pro-oncogenic metabolites. We have recently developed a novel 80 nanometer diameter liposomal formulation that incorporates 30 molar percent C6-ceramide, a bioactive lipid that is pro-apoptotic to many cancer cells, but not to normal cells. In this manuscript, we evaluated the efficacy of combining nanoliposomal C6-ceramide (Lip-C6) with either gemcitabine or an inhibitor of glucosylceramide synthase. We first assessed the biological effect of Lip-C6 in PANC-1 cells, a gemcitabine-resistant human pancreatic cancer cell line, and found that low doses alone did not induce cell toxicity. However, cytotoxicity was achieved by combining Lip-C6 with either non-toxic sub-therapeutic concentrations of gemcitabine or with the glucosylceramide synthase inhibitor D-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PDMP). Furthermore, these combinations with Lip-C6 cooperatively inhibited PANC-1 tumor growth in vivo. Mechanistically, Lip-C6 inhibited pro-survival Akt and Erk signaling, whereas the nucleoside analog gemcitabine did not. Furthermore, by including PDMP within the nanoliposomes, which halted ceramide neutralization as evidenced by LC-MS3, the cytotoxic effects of Lip-C6 were enhanced. Collectively, we have demonstrated that nanoliposomal ceramide can be an effective anti-pancreatic cancer therapeutic in combination with gemcitabine or an inhibitor of ceramide neutralization.

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Pages
574 - 585
doi
10.4161/cbt.12.7.15971
Type
Research Paper
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Combinatorial therapies improve the therapeutic efficacy of nanoliposomal ceramide for pancreatic cancer