Crenigacestat, a selective NOTCH1 inhibitor, reduces intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma progression by blocking VEGFA/DLL4/MMP13 axis

Serena Mancarella, Grazia Serino, Francesco Dituri, Antonio Cigliano, Silvia Ribback, Jingxiao Wang, Xin Chen, Diego F. Calvisi, Gianluigi Giannelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) is a deadly disease with rising incidence and few treatment options. An altered expression and/or activation of NOTCH1–3 receptors has been shown to play a role in iCCA development and progression. In this study, we established a new CCA patient-derived xenograft model, which was validated by immunohistochemistry and transcriptomic analysis. The effects of Notch pathway suppression by the Crenigacestat (LY3039478)-specific inhibitor were evaluated in human iCCA cell lines and the PDX model. In vitro, LY3039478 significantly reduced Notch pathway components, including NICD1 and HES1, but not the other Notch receptors, in a panel of five different iCCA cell lines. In the PDX model, LY3039478 significantly inhibited the Notch pathway and tumor growth to the same extent as gemcitabine. Furthermore, gene expression analysis of iCCA mouse tissues treated with LY3039478 revealed a downregulation of VEGFA, HES1, and MMP13 genes. In the same tissues, DLL4 and CD31 co-localized, and their expression was significantly inhibited in the treated mice, as it happened in the case of MMP13. In an in vitro angiogenesis model, LY3039478 inhibited vessel formation, which was restored by the addition of MMP13. Finally, RNA-sequencing expression data of iCCA patients and matched surrounding normal liver tissues downloaded from the GEO database demonstrated that NOTCH1, HES1, MMP13, DLL4, and VEGFA genes were significantly upregulated in tumors compared with adjacent nontumorous tissues. These data were confirmed by our group, using an independent cohort of iCCA specimens. Conclusion: We have developed and validated a new iCCA PDX model to test in vivo the activity of LY3039478, demonstrating its inhibitory role in Notch-dependent angiogenesis. Thus, the present data provide new knowledge on Notch signaling in iCCA, and support the inhibition of the Notch cascade as a promising strategy for the treatment of this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2330-2343
Number of pages14
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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