The Benzimidazole-Based Anthelmintic Parbendazole: A Repurposed Drug Candidate That Synergizes with Gemcitabine in Pancreatic Cancer

Rosalba Florio, Serena Veschi, Viviana di Giacomo, Sara Pagotto, Simone Carradori, Fabio Verginelli, Roberto Cirilli, Adriano Casulli, Antonino Grassadonia, Nicola Tinari, Amelia Cataldi, Rosa Amoroso, Alessandro Cama, Laura De Lellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the most lethal, chemoresistant malignancies and it is of paramount importance to find more effective therapeutic agents. Repurposing of non-anticancer drugs may expand the repertoire of effective molecules. Studies on repurposing of benzimidazole-based anthelmintics in PC and on their interaction with agents approved for PC therapy are lacking. We analyzed the effects of four Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved benzimidazoles on AsPC-1 and Capan-2 pancreatic cancer cell line viability. Notably, parbendazole was the most potent benzimidazole affecting PC cell viability, with half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values in the nanomolar range. The drug markedly inhibited proliferation, clonogenicity and migration of PC cell lines through mechanisms involving alteration of microtubule organization and formation of irregular mitotic spindles. Moreover, parbendazole interfered with cell cycle progression promoting G2/M arrest, followed by the emergence of enlarged, polyploid cells. These abnormalities, suggesting a mitotic catastrophe, culminated in PC cell apoptosis, are also associated with DNA damage in PC cell lines. Remarkably, combinations of parbendazole with gemcitabine, a drug employed as first-line treatment in PC, synergistically decreased PC cell viability. In conclusion, this is the first study providing evidence that parbendazole as a single agent, or in combination with gemcitabine, is a repurposing candidate in the currently dismal PC therapy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancers
Volume11
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 17 2019

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