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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29802

Title: GSK-3 Inhibition: A Novel Approach to Sensitization of Chemo-resistant Pancreatic Cancer Cells
Authors: Mamaghani, Shadi
Advisor: Hedley, David
Department: Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
Keywords: Oncology
Molecular therapeutics
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2011
Abstract: The aggressive nature of pancreatic cancer, characterized by invasiveness, resistance to treatment, rapid progression, and its high prevalence in the population urges the need for developing more effective treatments. Many studies have attributed resistance to therapeutics of pancreatic cancer to activity of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). NF-kB is regulated by the serine/threonine kinase glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3). GSK-3 is a key mediator of pathways such as insulin, wnt, and PI3K/Akt and has roles in proliferation, glucose metabolism, apoptosis, motility and neuroprotection. Depending on the cellular context, GSK-3 activity can promote or inhibit cell survival. GSK-3 inhibition was recently reported to have anti-cancer effects against pancreatic cancer cells. This effect was in part attributed to suppression of NF-kB. In this thesis, I showed that while blocking GSK-3 disrupts NF-kB, and has anti-survival effects on pancreatic cancer cells, it does not sensitize to the chemotherapeutic drug gemcitabine. NF-kB inhibition by curcumin also resulted in similar effects. These results questions previous reports that NF-kB activation plays a major role in chemo-resistance of pancreatic cancer. The inhibition of NF-kB by genetic disruption of GSK-3 was previously reported to sensitize mouse embryonic fibroblasts and hepatocytes to TNF-alpha cytotoxicity. I therefore tested whether GSK-3 inhibition could sensitize pancreatic cancer cells to apoptosis induced by the clinically applicable member of the TNF-alpha family, TNF-alpha related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL). In contrast to the results obtained with gemcitabine, the combination of genetic or pharmacological inhibition of GSK-3 and TRAIL was found to be highly synergistic in apoptosis induction. Analysis of the apoptotic mechanisms, point towards effects of GSK-3 inhibition on caspase-8 activation, consistent with inhibition of the death receptor signalling pathway. It was found that not only caspase-8 but also mitochondrial anti-apoptotic proteins such as Bcl-XL and Mcl-1 were mediating the TRAIL sensitization. Furthermore, for the first time the in vivo effects of GSK-3 inhibition in combination with TRAIL treatment was investigated. The results indicate a significant enhancement of apoptosis in pancreatic cancer xenografts with minimal toxic effects. Together, these studies provide a rationale for developing combination treatments based on GSK3 inhibition and TRAIL death receptor activation to treat pancreatic cancer.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29802
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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