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Introduction: Gastric cancer is the 5th most common cancer and 3rd leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. There are three main ways to treat gastric cancer: surgical resection, radiation therapy, and drug therapy. Furthermore, combinations of two to three regimens can improve survival. However, the survival outcomes of chemotherapy in advanced gastric cancer patients are still unsatisfactory. Unfortunately, no widely useful biomarkers have been verified to predict the efficacy of chemotherapy for locally advanced gastric cancer. Methods: An MTT assay was used to determine the cell viability after cisplatin or oxaliplatin treatment. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were utilized to examine the sFRP4 level and associated signaling pathways. Immunofluorescence staining was utilized to analyze the location of β-catenin. Colony formation and Transwell assays were used to analyze the functions related with cisplatin, oxaliplatin and sFRP4. Results: We have found that gastric cancer patients treated with combinations of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and cisplatin regimens have better survival rates than those treated with 5-FU-based chemotherapy alone. Secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (sFRP4) was selected as a potential target from stringent analysis and intersection of 5-FU and cisplatin resistance-related gene sets. sFRP4 was shown to be overexpressed in clinical gastric tumor tissues and positively correlated with a worse survival rate. In addition, sFRP4 and β-catenin were upregulated in cisplatin-resistant and oxaliplatin-resistant gastric cancer cells compared to parental cells. Immunofluorescence staining and nuclear fractionation showed that β-catenin translocated from the cytosol into the nucleus. Moreover, sFRP4 was detected in the conditioned medium of these resistant cells, which indicates that sFRP4 might have an extracellular role in chemotherapy resistance. Increased migration capacity and dysregulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition-related markers, which might result from the dysregulation of sFRP4, were observed in cisplatin-resistant and oxaliplatin-resistant gastric cancer cells. Discussion/Conclusion: In summary, sFRP4 might play a critical role in resistance to cisplatin and oxaliplatin, cell metastasis and poor prognosis in gastric cancer via the Wnt-β-catenin pathway. Investigations of the molecular mechanism underlying sFRP4-modulated cancer progression and chemotherapeutic outcomes can provide additional therapeutic strategies for gastric cancer.

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