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1.  Hypoxia Increases Gefitinib-Resistant Lung Cancer Stem Cells through the Activation of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 Receptor 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86459.
Accumulating evidence indicates that a small population of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is involved in intrinsic resistance to cancer treatment. The hypoxic microenvironment is an important stem cell niche that promotes the persistence of CSCs in tumors. Our aim here was to elucidate the role of hypoxia and CSCs in the resistance to gefitinib in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation. NSCLC cell lines, PC9 and HCC827, which express the EGFR exon 19 deletion mutations, were exposed to high concentration of gefitinib under normoxic or hypoxic conditions. Seven days after gefitinib exposure, a small fraction of viable cells were detected, and these were referred to as “gefitinib-resistant persisters” (GRPs). CD133, Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, CXCR4, and ALDH1A1–all genes involved in stemness–were highly expressed in GRPs in PC9 and HCC827 cells, and PC9 GRPs exhibited a high potential for tumorigenicity in vivo. The expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) was also upregulated and IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) was activated on GRPs. Importantly, hypoxic exposure significantly increased sphere formation, reflecting the self-renewal capability, and the population of CD133- and Oct4-positive GRPs. Additionally, hypoxia upregulated IGF1 expression through hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1α), and markedly promoted the activation of IGF1R on GRPs. Knockdown of IGF1 expression significantly reduced phosphorylated IGF1R-expressing GRPs under hypoxic conditions. Finally, inhibition of HIF1α or IGF1R by specific inhibitors significantly decreased the population of CD133- and Oct4-positive GRPs, which were increased by hypoxia in PC9 and HCC827 cells. Collectively, these findings suggest that hypoxia increased the population of lung CSCs resistant to gefitinib in EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC by activating IGF1R. Targeting the IGF1R pathway may be a promising strategy for overcoming gefitinib resistance in EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC induced by lung CSCs and microenvironment factors such as tumor hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC3904884  PMID: 24489728
2.  Hochuekkito (TJ-41), a Kampo Formula, Ameliorates Cachexia Induced by Colon 26 Adenocarcinoma in Mice 
Cachexia, a major cause of cancer-related death, is characterized by depletion of muscle and fat tissues, anorexia, asthenia, and hypoglycemia. Recent studies indicate that secretions of proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) play a crucial role in cachexia development, and that these cytokines are secreted from not only cancer cells but also host cells such as macrophages. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic effects of hochuekkito, a Kampo formula, on cachexia induced by colon 26 adenocarcinoma in mice. Hochuekkito treatment did not inhibit tumor growth, but significantly attenuated the reduction in carcass weight, food and water intake, weight of the gastrocnemius muscle and fat tissue around the testes, and decrease of serum triglyceride level compared with controls. Furthermore, hochuekkito treatment significantly reduced serum IL-6 level and IL-6 expression level in macrophages in tissues surrounding the tumor. In vitro studies showed that hochuekkito suppressed the production of IL-6 by THP-1 or RAW264.7 macrophage cells, although it did not affect IL-6 production by colon 26 carcinoma cells. These results suggest that hochuekkito inhibits the production of proinflammatory cytokines, particularly IL-6, by host cells such as macrophages. Therefore, hochuekkito may be a promising anticachectic agent for the treatment of patients with cancer.
PMCID: PMC3543823  PMID: 23326296
3.  Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition in Drug Resistance and Metastasis of Lung Cancer 
Among all types of cancer, incidence of lung cancer remains the highest with regard to cancer-related mortality. Problems contributing to recurrence of the disease include metastasis and drug resistance. Mounting evidence has demonstrated involvement of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancer progression. EMT is a critical mechanism ensuring tissue remodeling during morphogenesis of multicellular organisms. Therefore, understanding of the biology of this process for identification of potential EMT-targeted therapeutic strategies for the benefit cancer patients is necessary. This review describes recent evidence of EMT involvement in drug resistance and metastasis of cancers, with an emphasis on lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3467417  PMID: 23091440
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Drug resistance; Neoplasm metastasis; Lung neoplasms
4.  From tumor hypoxia to cancer progression: the implications of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 expression in cancers 
Anatomy & Cell Biology  2012;45(2):73-78.
Hypoxia, defined as a decrease of tissue oxygen levels, represents a fundamental pathophysiological condition in the microenvironment of solid tumors. Tumor hypoxia is known to be associated with radio/chemo-resistance and metastasis that eventually lead to cancer progression contributing to poor prognosis in cancer patients. Among transcription factors that accumulated under hypoxic conditions, hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a master transcription factor that has received the most intense attention in this field of research due to its capacity to modulate several hundred genes. With a clearer understanding of the HIF-1 pathway, efforts are directed at manipulation of this complex genetic process in order to ultimately decrease cellular HIF-1 levels. Some novel agents have been shown to have HIF-1 inhibition activity through a variety of molecular mechanisms and have provided promising results in the preclinical setting.
PMCID: PMC3398177  PMID: 22822460
Tumor hypoxia; Cancer progression; Hypoxia-inducible factor-1
5.  Molecular Mechanisms Contributing to Resistance to Tyrosine Kinase-Targeted Therapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Cancer Biology & Medicine  2012;9(1):18-22.
One of the most important pathways in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway. This pathway affects several crucial processes in tumor development and progression, including tumor cell proliferation, apoptosis regulation, angiogenesis, and metastatic invasion. Targeting EGFR is currently being intensely explored. We are witnessing the development of a number of potential molecular-inhibiting treatments for application in clinical oncology. In the last decade, the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain of the EGFR was identified in NSCLC patients, and it has responded very well with a dramatic clinical improvement to TK inhibitors such are gefitinib and erlotinib. Unfortunately, there were primary and/or secondary resistance to these treatments, as shown by clinical trials. Subsequent molecular biology studies provided some explanations for the drug resistance phenomenon. The molecular mechanisms of resistance need to be clarified. An in-depth understanding of these targeted-therapy resistance may help us explore new strategies for overcoming or reversing the resistance to these inhibitors for the future of NSCLC treatment.
PMCID: PMC3643639  PMID: 23691449
carcinoma; non-small-cell lung; mutation; drug resistance

Results 1-5 (5)