Combined low doses of PPARgamma and RXR ligands trigger an intrinsic apoptotic pathway in human breast cancer cells

Published on Friday, 30 August 2013


Ligand activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)gamma and retinoid X receptor (RXR) induces antitumor effects in cancer.

We evaluated the ability of combined treatment with nanomolar levels of the PPARgamma ligand rosiglitazone (BRL) and the RXR ligand 9-cis-retinoic acid (9RA) to promote antiproliferative effects in breast cancer cells.

BRL and 9RA in combination strongly inhibit of cell viability in MCF-7, MCF-7TR1, SKBR-3, and T-47D breast cancer cells, whereas MCF-10 normal breast epithelial cells are unaffected.

In MCF-7 cells, combined treatment with BRL and 9RA up-regulated mRNA and protein levels of both the tumor suppressor p53 and its effector p21(WAF1/Cip1).

Functional experiments indicate that the nuclear factor-kappaB site in the p53 promoter is required for the transcriptional response to BRL plus 9RA.

We observed that the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in MCF-7 cells displays an ordinated sequence of events, including disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential, release of cytochrome c, strong caspase 9 activation, and, finally, DNA fragmentation.

An expression vector for p53 antisense abrogated the biological effect of both ligands, which implicates involvement of p53 in PPARgamma/RXR-dependent activity in all of the human breast malignant cell lines tested.

Taken together, our results suggest that multidrug regimens including a combination of PPARgamma and RXR ligands may provide a therapeutic advantage in breast cancer treatment.



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