Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is highly chemo-resistant and has a five year survival rate of < 8%. Risk factors of pancreatic cancer, such as chronic pancreatitis, help to elicit a pro-tumor immune response, and highly fibrotic environment that promotes tumorigenesis. To study how chronic pancreatitis promotes cancer initiation, traditional KRasG12D mice and double mutant Akt1Myr/KrasG12D mice were used to model microenvironment changes. Akt1Myr/KrasG12D mice were more susceptible to chronic tissue damage, accelerated tumor development and metastatic disease. These mice exhibited histological changes consistent with immune cell privilege, where M2 macrophages and non-cytotoxic eosinophils were co-localized with fibrotic regions. IL-5 expression was up regulated in pancreatic cells undergoing acinar to ductal metaplasia and then diminished in advanced lesions. Tumor cells treated with IL-5 exhibit increased migration and activation through STAT5 signaling. Collectively, the results suggest that eosinophils, which are responsive to IL-5, are key mediators in the pancreatic environment subjected to chronic inflammation and injury. Current therapeutics fall short in increasing patient survival. There remains an urgent need for innovative treatments and thus we tested difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) in combination with a novel polyamine transport inhibitor, Trimer44NMe, against Gemcitabine-resistant PDAC cells. Prior clinical failures when targeting polyamine biosynthesis with DFMO monotherapy may be due to tumor escape via an undefined polyamine transport system. In pancreatic tumor cells DFMO alone and with Trimer44NMe significantly reduced PDAC cell viability by inducing apoptosis or cell cycle arrest. In vivo orthotopic PDAC growth with DFMO treatment resulted in decreased c-Myc expression, a readout of polyamine pathway dysfunction. Moreover, dual inhibition significantly prolonged survival of tumor-bearing mice, and increased M1 macrophage infiltration and reduced FoxP3 expression. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that targeting polyamine pathways in PDAC is a promising immunomodulating therapy that increases survival.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Medicine
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Gitto, Sarah, "Novel Cytokine Signaling and Molecular Therapeutic Strategy in Pancreatic Cancer" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6030.