The aim of this study is to explore how quercetin interacts with pancreatic cancer stem-like cells and the mechanism underlying the effective quercetin-mediated suppression.
A model of pancreatic cancer stem-like cells was generated by using a sphere formation culture system. A comparative analysis was performed between the parent cells and pancreatic cancer stem-like cells with a related treatment strategy focusing on cancer stem cell (CSC) properties and drug-resistance–related mechanisms in vitro.
Our data show that pancreatic cancer stem-like cells have greater resistance to gemcitabine and stronger CSC properties compared with the parent cells. In contrast to the pancreatic cancer stem-like cells, overexpression of β-catenin was observed in the parent cells. Quercetin suppressed proliferation, invasion and self-renewal capacity, and CSC surface markers expression, with alterations of β-catenin in pancreatic cancer stem-like cells. The combination of quercetin and gemcitabine can reduce tumor growth and decrease drug resistance in pancreatic cancer.
β-Catenin plays an important role in maintenance and progression of pancreatic cancer. Targeting β-catenin using quercetin combined with gemcitabine may be a treatment strategy to improve prognosis in patients with pancreatic cancer.
From the *Department of Radiation Oncology, Cancer Institute (Hospital), Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing; †Department of Radiation Oncology, Zhejiang Cancer Hospital, Hangzhou; and ‡State Key Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Cancer Institute (Hospital), Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.
Received for publication June 13, 2014; accepted January 28, 2015.
Reprints: Yuliang Ran, PhD, State Key Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Cancer Institute (Hospital), Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, No. 17 Panjiayuan Nanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100021, China (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
This study was supported by the National Science and Technology Major Project (No. 2009ZX09103-713) and the National Key Basic Research Program of China (2009CB521804).
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Caineng Cao and Lixin Sun contributed equally to this work.