Garcinol sensitizes human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells to gemcitabine in association with microRNA signatures


Correspondence: Dr. Smiti V. Gupta, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, School of Liberal Arts and Science, Wayne State University, 410 W. Warren Avenue 3027 Science Hall, Detroit, MI 48201, USA


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Alterations in microRNA (miRNA/miR) genes are of biological importance in the pathophysiology of cancers, including pancreatic cancer (PaCa). Although growing evidence supports the role of miRNA in cancer, their response to dietary phytochemicals is less known. Previously, we showed that garcinol induces PaCa cell growth arrest and apoptosis in vitro. The present study, discusses chemo-sensitization by garcinol in synergism with first-line PaCa drug, gemcitabine. The miRNA expression profile of gemcitabine-resistant Panc-1 cells treated with garcinol and/or gemcitabine was also evaluated.

Methods and results

Garcinol synergizes with gemcitabine to inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in PaCa cells with significant modulation of key cancer regulators including PARP, VEGF, MMPs, ILs, caspases, and NF-κB. In addition, biostatistical analyses, quantitative reverse transcription PCR data, and in silico modeling using TargetScan5, PicTar, and DNA intelligent analysis, microT-V.B4 database showed that these two agents modulated a number of microRNAs (miR-21, miR-196a, miR-495, miR-605, miR-638, and miR-453) linked to various canonical oncogenic signaling pathways.


We identified garcinol-specific miRNA biomarkers that sensitize PaCa cells to gemcitabine treatment, thus attenuating the drug-resistance phenotype. These results prompt further interest in garcinol and gemcitabine combination strategy as a drug modality to improve treatment outcome in patients diagnosed with PaCa.