Low-dose taxotere enhances the ability of sorafenib to induce apoptosis in gastric cancer models

Anna Tesei, Carlo Leonetti, Gabriella Zupi, Marco Scarsella, Giovanni Brigliadori, Paola Ulivi, Francesco Fabbri, Chiara Arienti, Dino Amadori, Alessandro Passardi, Rosella Silvestrini, Wainer Zoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the low efficacy of conventional antitumour drugs, chemotherapy remains an essential tool in controlling advanced gastric and oesophageal cancers. We aimed to provide a biological rationale based on the sorafenib-taxotere interaction for the clinical treatment of gastric cancer. In vitro experiments were performed on four human gastric cancer cell lines (GK2, AKG, KKP and NCI-N87). Cytotoxicity was evaluated by sulforhodamine B (SRB) assay, cell cycle perturbations, apoptosis and mitotic catastrophe were assessed by flow cytometric and microscopic analyses, and protein expression was studied by Western blot. In the in vivo experiments, nude mice xenografted with the most resistant line were treated with sorafenib and docetaxel singly or in association. Sorafenib inhibited cell growth (IG50 values ranged from 3.4 to 8.1 μM) and caused down-regulation of MAP-K/ERK phosphorylation and of mcl-1 and p-bad expression after a 48-hr exposure. Apoptosis induction was associated with caspase-3 and -9 activation and mitochondrial membrane depolarization. The drug combination enhanced apoptosis (up to 80%) and produced a synergistic interaction when low doses of the taxane preceded administration of the antityrosine kinase. This synergism was probably due to the induction of an anomalous multidiploid G0-G1 peak and to consequent mitotic catastrophe, which increased sensitivity to sorafenib. Consistent with in vitro results, the docetaxel-sorafenib sequence exhibited high therapeutic efficacy in NCI-N87 mouse xenografts producing tumour weight inhibition (> 65%), tumour growth delay (up to 25 days) and increased mouse survival (30%). Our findings suggest the potential clinical usefulness of treatment with sorafenib and docetaxel for advanced gastric cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Apoptosis
  • Gastric cancer
  • Mitotic catastrophe
  • Sorafenib
  • Taxotere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Medicine


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