Gastric cancer is difficult to cure because most patients are diagnosed at an advanced disease stage. Systemic chemotherapy remains an important therapy for gastric cancer, but both progression-free survival and disease-free survival associated with various combination regimens are limited because of refractoriness and chemoresistance. Accumulating evidence has revealed that the homomeric α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (A7-nAChR) promotes human gastric cancer by driving cancer cell proliferation, migration, and metastasis. Therefore, A7-nAChR may serve as a potential therapeutic target for gastric cancer. However, the role of A7-nAChR in taxane therapy for gastric cancer was unclear. Cells were subjected to A7-nAChR knockdown (A7-nAChR KD) using short interfering RNA (siRNA). The anti-proliferative effects of taxane were assessed via 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT), terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated nick-end labeling (TUNEL), and cell cycle distribution assays. A7-nAChR-KD cells exhibited low resistance to docetaxel and paclitaxel treatment, as measured by the MTT assay. Following paclitaxel treatment, the proportion of apoptotic cells was higher among A7-nAChR-KD cells than among scrambled control cells, as measured by cell cycle distribution and TUNEL assays. Further molecular analyses showed a reduction in the pAKT levels and a dramatic increase in the Bad levels in paclitaxel-treated A7-nAChR-KD cells but not in scrambled control cells. Following paclitaxel treatment, the level of Bax was slightly increased in both cell populations, whereas Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage was increased only in A7-nAChR-KD cells. These findings indicate that A7-nAChR-KD cells are more sensitive to paclitaxel treatment. We conclude that A7-nAChR may be a key biomarker for assessing the chemosensitivity of gastric cancer cells to taxane.
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