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    Biliary tract cancer (BTC) has few choices of chemotherapy, including gemcitabine, therefore exploring the mechanisms of gemcitabine resistance is important. We focused on lipid metabolism because biliary tract epithelial cells are essential in cholesterol and bile acid metabolism and the messenger RNA (mRNA) microarray analysis showed high acyl coenzyme A: cholesterol acyltransferase 1 (ACAT-1) expression in BTC gemcitabine-resistant (GR) cell lines. We hypothesized that aberrant accumulation of cholesteryl ester (CE) regulated by ACAT-1 could modulate GR in BTC. CE accumulations were measured in human BTC cell lines, and the relationships between CE levels, ACAT-1 expressions, and gemcitabine sensitivity were analyzed. We performed a small-interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown and biochemical inhibition of ACAT-1 in BTC cell lines and alterations of gemcitabine sensitivity were evaluated. To evaluate the clinical significance of ACAT-1 in regard to GR, immunohistochemistry was performed and ACAT-1 expressions were analyzed in resected BTC specimens. CE levels were correlated with ACAT-1 expressions and GR in four human BTC cell lines. siRNA-mediated knockdown of ACAT-1 in two independent GR cell clones as well as ACAT-1 inhibitor treatment significantly increased gemcitabine sensitivity; knockdown of ACAT-1: 5.63- and 8.02-fold; ACAT-1 inhibitor: 8.75- and 9.13-fold, respectively. ACAT-1 expression in resected BTC specimens revealed that the disease-free survival of the ACAT-1 low-intensity group (median 2.3 years) had a significantly better outcome than that of the ACAT-1 high-intensity group (median 1.1 years) under gemcitabine treatment after surgery (*p < 0.05). Our findings suggest that CE and ACAT-1 might be a novel therapeutic target for GR in BTC. © 2021. Society of Surgical Oncology.


    Goro Ueno, Yoshifumi Iwagami, Shogo Kobayashi, Suguru Mitsufuji, Daisaku Yamada, Yoshito Tomimaru, Hirofumi Akita, Tadafumi Asaoka, Takehiro Noda, Kunihito Gotoh, Masaki Mori, Yuichiro Doki, Hidetoshi Eguchi. ACAT-1-Regulated Cholesteryl Ester Accumulation Modulates Gemcitabine Resistance in Biliary Tract Cancer. Annals of surgical oncology. 2022 May;29(5):2899-2909

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    PMID: 34994902

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