New CXCR4 antagonist peptide R (Pep R) improves standard therapy in colorectal cancer

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The chemokine receptor CXCR4 is overexpressed and functional in colorectal cancer. To investigate the role of CXCR4 antagonism in potentiating colon cancer standard therapy, the new peptide CXCR4 antagonist Peptide R (Pep R) was employed. Human colon cancer HCT116 xenograft-bearing mice were treated with chemotherapeutic agents (CT) 5-Fluorouracil (5FU) and oxaliplatin (OX) or 5FU and radio chemotherapy (RT-CT) in the presence of Pep R. After two weeks, CT plus Pep R reduced by 4-fold the relative tumor volume (RTV) as compared to 2-and 1.6-fold reductions induced, respectively, by CT and Pep R. In vitro Pep R addition to CT/RT-CT impaired HCT116 cell growth and further reduced HCT116 and HT29 clonal capability. Thus, the hypothesis that Pep R could target the epithelial mesenchyme transition (EMT) process was evaluated. While CT decreased ECAD and increased ZEB-1 and CD90 expression, the addition of Pep R restored the pretreatment expression. In HCT116 and HT29 cells, CT/RT-CT induced a population of CD133+CXCR4+ cells, supposedly a stem-resistant cancer cell population, while Pep R reduced it. Taken together, the results showed that targeting CXCR4 ameliorates the effect of treatment in colon cancer through inhibition of cell growth and reversal of EMT treatment-induced markers, supporting further clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1952
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Chemoresistance
  • Chemotherapy
  • Colorectal cancer
  • CXCR4/CXCL12 axis
  • EMT epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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