The small-molecule IAP antagonist AT406 inhibits pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo

In the present study, we tested the anti-pancreatic cancer activity by AT406, a small-molecule antagonist of IAP (inhibitor of apoptosis proteins). In established (Panc-1 and Mia-PaCa-2 lines) and primary human pancreatic cancer cells, treatment of AT406 significantly inhibited cell survival and proliferation. Yet, same AT406 treatment was non-cytotoxic to pancreatic epithelial HPDE6c7 cells. AT406 increased caspase-3/-9 activity and provoked apoptosis in the pancreatic cancer cells. Reversely, AT406' cytotoxicity in these cells was largely attenuated with pre-treatment of caspase inhibitors. AT406 treatment caused degradation of IAP family proteins (cIAP1 and XIAP) and release of cytochrome C, leaving Bcl-2 unaffected in pancreatic cancer cells. Bcl-2 inhibition (by ABT-737) or shRNA knockdown dramatically sensitized Panc-1 cells to AT406. In vivo, oral administration of AT406 at well-tolerated doses downregulated IAPs (cIAP1/XIAP) and inhibited Panc-1 xenograft tumor growth in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) nude mice. Together, our preclinical results suggest that AT406 could be further evaluated as a promising anti-pancreatic cancer agent.

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