Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Inhibition Increases Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress to Enhance Oxaliplatin Sensitivity in Pancreatic Cancer

Zachary Gao, Harinarayanan Janakiraman, Yang Xiao, Sung Wook Kang, Jiangling Dong, Jasmine Choi, Besim Ogretmen, Hyun-Sung Lee, Ernest Ramsay Camp


Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive cancer resistant to current therapies, including oxaliplatin (Oxa). Growing evidence supports the ability of cancers to harness sphingolipid metabolism for survival. Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) is an anti-apoptotic, pro-survival mediator that can influence cellular functions such as endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. We hypothesize that PDAC drives dysregulated sphingolipid metabolism and that S1P inhibition can enhance ER stress to improve therapeutic response to Oxa in PDAC.

Methods: RNA sequencing data of sphingolipid mediators from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Genotype-Tissue Expression Project (GTEx) datasets were analyzed. Murine and human PDAC cell lines were treated with small interfering RNA (siRNA) against sphingosine kinase-2 (SPHK2) or ABC294640 (ABC) and incubated with combinations of vehicle control or Oxa. In an orthotopic syngeneic KPC PDAC model, tumors were treated with either vehicle control, Oxa, ABC, or combination therapy.

Results: RNA sequencing analysis revealed multiple significantly differentially expressed sphingolipid mediators (P < 0.05). In vitro, both siRNA knockdown of SPHK2 and ABC sensitized cells to Oxa therapy (P < 0.05), and induced eukaryotic initiation factor 2(eIF2 and protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) phosphorylation, hallmarks of ER stress. In vitro therapy also increased extracellular high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) release (P < 0.05), necessary for immunogenic cell death (ICD). In vivo combination therapy increased apoptotic markers as well as the intensity of HMGB1 staining compared to control (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Our evidence suggests that sphingolipid metabolism is dysregulated in PDAC. Furthermore, S1P inhibition can sensitize PDAC to Oxa therapy through increasing ER stress and can potentiate ICD induction. This highlights a potential therapeutic target for chemosensitizing PDAC as well as an adjunct for future chemoimmunotherapy strategies.

World J Oncol. 2024;15(2):169-180
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/wjon1768


Sphingosine-1-phosphate; Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; Oxaliplatin; Endoplasmic reticulum stress

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