Sphingosine kinase 1 is a relevant molecular target in gastric cancer

Thorsten Fuereder, Doris Hoeflmayer, Agnes Jaeger-Lansky, Doris Rasin-Streden, Sabine Strommer, Niels Fisker, Bo J Hansen, Richard Crevenna, Volker Wacheck

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Sphingosine kinase 1 (Sphk1), a lipid kinase implicated in cell transformation and tumor growth, is overexpressed in gastric cancer and is linked with a poor prognosis. The biological relevance of Sphk1 expression in gastric cancer is unclear. Here, we studied the functional significance of Sphk1 as a novel molecular target for gastric cancer by using an antisense oligonucleotide approach in vitro and in vivo. Gastric cancer cell lines (MKN28 and N87) were treated with Sphk1 with locked nucleic acid-antisense oligonucleotides (LNA-ASO). Sphk1 target regulation, cell growth, and apoptosis were assessed for single-agent Sphk1 LNA-ASO and for combinations with doxorubicin. Athymic nude mice xenografted with gastric cancer cells were treated with Sphk1 LNA and assessed for tumor growth and Sphk1 target regulation, in vivo. In vitro, nanomolar concentrations of Sphk1 LNA-ASO induced an approximately two-fold reduction in Sphk1 mRNA in both the cell lines. This resulted in a 1.6-fold increase in apoptosis and inhibited the growth of gastric cancer cells by more than 50% (P <0.05). The combination of Sphk1 LNA-ASO with doxorubicin resulted in significant chemosensitization. In vivo, Sphk1 LNA-ASO displayed neither mRNA target regulation in xenografts nor antitumor activity in two independent nude mouse xenograft models. In conclusion, the potent single-agent activity and the synergistic effect of Sphk1 LNA-ASO in combination with chemotherapy in vitro highlight Sphk1 as a biologically relevant molecular target for gastric cancer. Further studies are warranted to overcome the challenge of delivering Sphk1-targeting RNA-therapeutics to solid tumors in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnti-Cancer Drugs
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)245-52
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Down-Regulation
  • Doxorubicin
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • Stomach Neoplasms
  • Transfection


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