PURPOSE: Pancreatic cancer (PC) is the fourth cause of death from cancer in the western world. Majority of patients present with advanced unresectable disease responding poorly to most chemotherapeutic agents. Chemotherapy for PC might be improved by adjusting it to individual genetic profiles. We attempt to identify genetic predictors of chemosensitivity to broad classes of anticancer drugs.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Using a panel of genetically defined human PC cell lines, we tested gemcitabine (anti-metabolite), docetaxel (anti-microtubule), mitomycin C (alkylating), irinotecan (topoisomerase I inhibitor), cisplatin (crosslinking), KU0058948 (Parp1 inhibitor), triptolide (terpenoid drug) and artemisinin (control). RESULTS: All PC cell lines were sensitive to triptolide and docetaxel. Most PC cells were also sensitive to gemcitabine and MMC. The vast majority of PC cell lines were insensitive to cisplatin, irinotecan, and a Parp1 inhibitor. However, individual cell lines were often sensitive to these compounds in unique ways. We found that DPC4/SMAD4 inactivation sensitized PC cells to cisplatin and irinotecan by 2-4 fold, but they were modestly less sensitive to gemcitabine. PC cells were all sensitive to triptolide and 18% were sensitive to the Parp1 inhibitor. P16/CDKN2A inactivated PC cells were 3-4 fold less sensitive to gemcitabine and MMC.CONCLUSIONS: Chemosensitivity of PC cells correlated with some specific genetic profiles. These results support the hypothesis that genetic subsets of pancreatic cancer exist, and these genetic backgrounds may permit one to personalize the chemotherapy of PC in the future. Further work will need to confirm these responses and determine their magnitude in vivo.
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