As the central regulator of the oxidative stress response, nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) is attracting great interest as a therapeutic target for various cancers, and the possible clinical applications of novel Nrf2 inhibitors have been explored in Nrf2-activated cancers. In the present study, we specifically investigated halofuginone, which is derived from a natural plant alkaloid. We found that halofuginone administration decreased the number of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias in pancreas-specific Kras and p53 mutant (KPC) mice. In Nrf2-activated pancreatic cancer cell lines established from KPC mice, halofuginone rapidly depleted Nrf2 in Nrf2-activated cancer cells. Both in vitro and in vivo, it sensitized Nrf2-activated pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine, which is the first-line chemotherapy in clinical practice. In our mechanistic study, we found that halofuginone downregulated aldehyde dehydrogenase 3a1 (ALDH3A1) in mouse pancreatic cancer cells. The Nrf2 inducer diethyl maleate upregulated ALDH3A1, and knockdown of Aldh3a1 sensitized Nrf2-activated cancer cells to gemcitabine, strongly suggesting that ALDH3A1 is regulated by Nrf2 and that it contributes to gemcitabine resistance. The current study demonstrated the therapeutic benefits of halofuginone in Nrf2-activated pancreatic cancers.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics|
|Publication status||Published - 2021 Oct 1|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine