MSC-Delivered Soluble TRAIL and Paclitaxel as Novel Combinatory Treatment for Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

Filippo Rossignoli, Carlotta Spano, Giulia Grisendi, Elisabetta Manuela Foppiani, Giulia Golinelli, Ilenia Mastrolia, Marco Bestagno, Olivia Candini, Tiziana Petrachi, Alessandra Recchia, Francesca Miselli, Giulia Rovesti, Giulia Orsi, Elena Veronesi, Gregorio Medici, Benedetta Petocchi, Massimo Pinelli, Edwin M Horwitz, Pierfranco Conte, Massimo Dominici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in western countries with more than 100,000 new cases per year in Europe and a mortality rate higher than 90%. In this scenario, advanced therapies based on gene therapies are emerging, thanks to a better understanding of tumour architecture and cancer cell alterations. We have demonstrated the efficacy of an innovative approach for pancreatic cancer based on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) genetically engineered to produce TNF-related Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (TRAIL). Here we investigated the combination of this MSC-based approach with the administration of a paclitaxel (PTX)-based chemotherapy to improve the potential of the treatment, also accounting for a possible resistance onset. Methods: Starting from the BXPC3 cell line, we generated and profiled a TRAIL-resistant model of pancreatic cancer, testing the impact of the combined treatment in vitro with specific cytotoxicity and metabolic assays. We then challenged the rationale in a subcutaneous mouse model of pancreatic cancer, assessing its effect on tumour size accounting stromal and parenchymal organization. Results: PTX was able to restore pancreatic cancer sensitivity to MSC-delivered TRAIL by reverting its pro-survival gene expression profile. The two compounds cooperate both in vitro and in vivo and the combined treatment resulted in an improved cytotoxicity on tumour cells. Conclusion: In summary, this study uncovers the potential of a combinatory approach between MSC-delivered TRAIL and PTX, supporting the combination of cell-based products and conventional chemotherapeutics as a tool to improve the efficacy of the treatments, also addressing possible mechanisms of resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-448
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Adenocarcinoma/therapy
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents/administration & dosage
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy/methods
  • Combined Modality Therapy/methods
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells/metabolism
  • Mice, Nude
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Paclitaxel/administration & dosage
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms/therapy
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand/metabolism
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Treatment Outcome


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