Characterisation of the Morphological, Functional and Molecular Changes in Sunitinib-Resistant Renal Cell Carcinoma Cells

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Hossam Kamli
Glenda C Gobe
Li Li
David A Vesey
Christudas Morais


angiogenesis, anti-apoptosis, interleukin-6, renal cell carcinoma, sunitinib resistance


Sunitinib resistance is a major clinical problem hampering the treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Studies on the comprehensive characterisation of morphological, functional and molecular changes in sunitinib-resistant RCC cells are lacking. The aim of the current study was to develop sunitinib resistance in four human RCC cell lines (786-0, Caki-1, Caki-2 and SN12K1), and to characterise the changed cell biology with sunitinib resistance. RCC cells were made resistant by continuous, chronic exposure to 10 µM of sunitinib over a period of 12 months. Cell proliferation, morphology, transmigration, and gene expression for interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), Bcl-2 and Bax were studied. There was no significant difference in growth rate or transmigration between the parental and resistant cells. Sunitinib-resistant cells were significantly hypertrophic compared with parental cells as evidenced by increases in the surface areas of the whole cells and the nuclei. IL-6 was significantly increased in all resistant cells. IL-8 was increased in sunitinib-resistant Caki-2 and SN12K1 cells and decreased in 786-0 without any significant changes in Caki-1. VEGF was increased in resistant Caki-2 and SN12K1 cells but not in 786-0 and Caki-1. The Bcl2/Bax ratio was increased in Caki-1, Caki-2 and SN12K1 cells but decreased in 786-0 cells. The increased IL-6 may contribute to sunitinib resistance either via VEGF-mediated angiogenesis or through shifting of the Bcl2/Bax balance in favour of anti-apoptosis.
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