Frondoside A enhances the antiproliferative effects of gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer

J. Al Shemaili, E. Mensah-Brown, K. Parekh, S. A. Thomas, S. Attoub, B. Hellman, F. Nyberg, A. Adem, P. Collin, T. E. Adrian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pancreatic cancer has a very poor prognosis. While gemcitabine is the mainstay of therapy and improves quality of life, it has little impact on survival. More effective treatments are desperately needed for this disease. Frondoside A is a triterpenoid glycoside isolated from the Atlantic sea cucumber, Cucumaria frondosa. Frondoside A potently inhibits pancreatic cancer cell growth and induces apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether frondoside A could enhance the anti-cancer effects of gemcitabine. Effects of frondoside A and gemcitabine alone and in combination on proliferation were investigated in two human pancreatic cancer cell lines, AsPC-1 and S2013. To investigate possible synergistic effects, combinations of low concentrations of the two drugs were used for a 72 h treatment period in vitro. Growth inhibition was significantly greater with the drug combinations than their additive effects. Combinations of frondoside A and gemcitabine were tested in vivo using the athymic mouse model. Xenografts of AsPC-1 and S2013 cells were allowed to form tumours prior to treatment with the drugs alone or in combination for 30 days. Tumours grew rapidly in placebo-treated animals. Tumour growth was significantly reduced in all treatment groups. At the lowest dose tested, gemcitabine (4 mg/kg/dose), combined with frondoside A (100 μg/kg/day) was significantly more effective than with either drug alone. To conclude: The present data suggest that combinations of frondoside A and gemcitabine may provide clinical benefit for patients with pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1391-1398
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Frondoside A
  • Gemcitabine
  • Pancreatic cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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