Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.503, No.3, 1214-1220, 2018
ABT-199-mediated inhibition of Bcl-2 as a potential therapeutic strategy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma
Background: Aberrant overexpression of Bcl-2 protein has been detected in 80% of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), and Bcl-2 family proteins are implicated in both NPC oncogenesis and chemotherapy resistance. Previous studies have shown that while treatment of NPC cells with Bcl-2 family inhibitors alone is rarely effective, concomitant treatment with a cytotoxic reagent such as cisplatin can increase efficacy through a synergistic effect. The aim of the current work was to determine how we might increase the efficacy of Bcl-2 family inhibitors in the absence of cytotoxic reagents, which are associated with negative side effect profiles. Methods: We assessed cell proliferation in Bcl-2 high-expressing NPC cells by CCK-8 assay after treatment with the Bcl-2 inhibitor ABT-199 and/or the Mcl-1 inhibitor 563845. Apoptotic induction by ABT-199 was evaluated by Annexin V-FITC and P1 double staining. We also evaluated Bcl-2 family protein expression (Bim, Mc1-1, Bcl-xL, Noxa) after treatment with ABT-199 by western blotting. Finally, xeno-grafted Balb/c nude mice were used to test ABT-199 efficacy in vivo, H&E and immunohistochemistry assay were used to analyze tumor samples. Results: ABT-199 effectively induced NPC cell apoptosis in vitro and in the xenograft model. Following ABT-199 treatment in NPC cells, upregulation of Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL can lead to drug resistance, while concomitant Noxa overexpression partially neutralized the Mcl-1-caused resistance. Given that ABT-199 induces apoptosis in NPC cells through the Bcl-2/Noxa/Mcl-1 axis, treatment avenues further targeting this pathway should be promising. Indeed, the newly developed Mcl-1 inhibitor 563845 in combination with ABT-199 had a synergistic effect on NPC cell apoptosis. Conclusion: Bcl-2 inhibition in NPC cells with ABT-199 triggers apoptosis through the Bcl-2/Noxa/Mcl-1 axis, and dual inhibition of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 provided a strong synergistic effect without the need for adjunctive cytotoxic agent treatment with cisplatin. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.