Pretreatment deoxycytidine kinase levels predict in vivo gemcitabine sensitivity

Judith R. Kroep, Willem J P Loves, Clasina L. Van Der Wilt, Enrique Alvarez, Iannis Talianidis, Epie Boven, Boudewijn J M Braakhuis, Cornelis J. Van Groeningen, Herbert M. Pinedo, Godefridus J. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


Deoxycytidine kinase (dCK) is essential for the phosphorylation of gemcitabine (2′,2′-difluorodeoxycytidine), a deoxycytidine analogue active against various solid tumors. Cytidine deaminase (CDA) catalyzes the degradation of gemcitabine. We determined whether dCK and/or CDA levels would predict response to gemcitabine. Activities of dCK and CDA were measured in a panel of eight gemcitabine-sensitive and -resistant tumors of a different origin (pancreas, lung, colon, ovary, and head and neck) grown as s.c. tumors in mice. Sensitivity to gemcitabine was expressed as treated versus control (tumor volume treated mice/control mice). Gemcitabine was given on days 0, 3, 6, and 9 (q3dx4) at its maximum tolerated dose. In addition, we measured the mRNA expression and protein levels of dCK in seven human tumor xenografts. dCK activity (mean ′ SE) ranged from 3.3 ± 0.3 to 18.4 ± 1.2 nmol/h/mg protein. Sensitivity to gemcitabine, expressed as treated versus control, ranged from 0.98 to 0.02, and the activity of CDA varied from 2 ± 2 to 411 ± 4 nmol/h/mg protein. In contrast to CDA, dCK activity was clearly related to gemcitabine sensitivity (ρ = -0.93; P <0.001). This indicates that dCK might be an important prognostic marker for gemcitabine sensitivity. Protein levels were significantly related to both dCK activity (r = 0.96; P <0.001) and gemcitabine sensitivity (ρ = -0.96; P <0.001). dCK expression as determined by competitive template reverse transcriptase PCR was significantly related with the dCK activity (r = 0.88; P = 0.025) and protein levels (ρ = 0.80; P = 0.052) but not with gemcitabine sensitivity, suggesting a post-translational regulation of dCK. In conclusion, the clear correlation between dCK levels and gemcitabine sensitivity in various murine tumors and human tumor xenografts may be a prognostic parameter when considering gemcitabine therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-376
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology


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