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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase enhances apoptosis induced by arsenic trioxide in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells.

Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) has recently been used to treat acute promyelocytic leukaemia and has activity in vitro against several solid tumour cell lines where the induction of differentiation and apoptosis are the prime effects. The mechanism of As2O3-induced cell death has yet to be clarified, especially in solid cancers. In the present study, the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 was examined as a cellular model for As2O3 treatment. The involvement of extracellular signal-regulated kinase ( ERK), p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was investigated in As2O3-induced cell death. 3. It was found that As2O3 activates the prosurvival mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/ERK pathway in MCF-7 cells, which, conversely, may compromise the efficacy of As2O3. Hence, a combination treatment of As2O3 and MEK inhibitors was investigated to determine whether this treatment could lead to enhanced growth inhibition and apoptosis in MCF-7 cells. 4. Inhibition of MEK/ ERK with the pharmacological inhibitors U0126 (10 micromol/L) or PD98059 (20 micromol/L) together with As2O3 (2 and 5 micromol/L) resulted in a significant enhancement of growth inhibition in breast cancer MCF-7 cells as determined by the 3-(4,5-dimethyl-2 thiazoyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide assay and [Methyl-3H]-thymidine incorporation. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that combined treatment with As2O3 and the MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126 could augment breast cancer MCF-7 cell apoptosis approximately twofold compared with the effects of the two drugs alone, as determined by Hoechst 33258 or annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) staining and flow cytometry. 5. In addition, As2O3 activated p38 in a dose-dependent manner, but had no effect on JNK1/2. Treatment with a p38 inhibitor did not prevent As2O3-induced apoptosis. 6. In conclusion, the results of the present study showed that enhanced apoptosis is detected in breast cancer MCF-7 cells in the presence of As2O3 and an MEK inhibitor, which may be a new promising adjuvant to current breast cancer treatments.[1]


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