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Open Sesame? : Biomarker Status of the Human Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter-1 and Molecular Mechanisms Influencing its Expression and Activity in the Uptake and Cytotoxicity of Gemcitabine in Pancreatic Cancer

  • Authors: Ornella Randazzo; Filippo Papini; Giulia Mantini; Alessandro Gregori; Barbara Parrino; Daniel S. K. Liu; Stella Cascioferro; Daniela Carbone; Godefridus J. Peters; Adam E. Frampton; Ingrid Garajova; Elisa Giovannetti
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an extremely aggressive tumor characterized by early invasiveness, rapid progression and resistance to treatment. For more than twenty years, gemcitabine has been the main therapy for PDAC both in the palliative and adjuvant setting. After the introduction of FOLFIRINOX as an upfront treatment for metastatic disease, gemcitabine is still commonly used in combination with nab-paclitaxel as an alternative first-line regimen, as well as a monotherapy in elderly patients unfit for combination chemotherapy. As a hydrophilic nucleoside analogue, gemcitabine requires nucleoside transporters to permeate the plasma membrane, and a major role in the uptake of this drug is played by human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (hENT-1). Several studies have proposed hENT-1 as a biomarker for gemcitabine ecacy in PDAC. A recent comprehensive multimodal analysis of hENT-1 status evaluated its predictive role by both immunohistochemistry (with five dierent antibodies), and quantitative-PCR, supporting the use of the 10D7G2 antibody. High hENT-1 levels observed with this antibody were associated with prolonged disease-free status and overall-survival in patients receiving gemcitabine adjuvant chemotherapy. This commentary aims to critically discuss this analysis and lists molecular factors influencing hENT-1 expression. Improved knowledge on these factors should help the identification of subgroups of patients who may benefit from specific therapies and overcome the limitations of traditional biomarker studies.