1. Division of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, Department of Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310003, China
2. NHFPC Key Laboratory of Combined Multi-organ Transplantation, Hangzhou 310003, China
3. Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis Treatment of Infectious Diseases, First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310003, China
Pirarubicin (THP) is a new generation cell cycle nonspecific anthracycline anticancer drug. Pirarubicin and pirarubicin-based combination therapies have been demonstrated to be effective against HCC in TACE. However, the drug resistance limits its therapeutic efficacy. Receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) displays a critical role in cell death. Here we found that RIPK1 and p21 may participate in the resistance to pirarubicin. In this study, we first found that inhibition of RIPK1 significantly decreased pAKT and increased p21, accompanied by G0/G1 phase cell cycle arrest and cell anti-proliferation in pirarubicin-treated hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Moreover, phosphorylation of AKT reversed the anti-proliferative effect of RIPK1 inhibitor in HCC, which proved that RIPK1-AKT-P21-dependent pathway played a key role in pirarubicin resistance. Using a mouse xenograft model, we further found that RIPK1 inhibitor combined with pirarubicin exerted synergistic anti-tumor effect in vivo. Upon exposure to pirarubicin treatment, xenografts under RIPK1 inhibition maintained higher levels of p21 than control xenografts. In conclusion, the results in our study demonstrated that RIPK1 inhibition enhances the anti-tumor effect of pirarubicin by overcoming drug resistance. RIPK1 inhibitor might be used as an adjuvant to potentiate the inhibitory effect of pirarubicin against primary hepatocellular carcinoma.
Keywords: Primary hepatocellular carcinoma, Pirarubicin, Receptor-interacting protein kinase 1, Chemoresistance, Transcatheter arterial chemoembolization