Non-small and small cell lung carcinoma cell lines exhibit cell type-specific sensitivity to edelfosine-induced cell death and different cell line-specific responses to edelfosine treatment

Shulamith H Shafer, Carol L Williams
International Journal of Oncology 2003, 23 (2): 389-400
The unique signal transduction pathways that distinguish non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) from small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) are poorly understood. We investigated the ability of edelfosine, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PLC) to inhibit cell viability among four NSCLC cell lines and four SCLC cell lines. The differential sensitivity of cells to edelfosine's cytostatic and cytotoxic effects has been attributed to edelfosine-induced changes in the activities of many enzymes, including c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK), p38 kinase, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). To investigate the role of these enzymes in edelfosine-induced cytotoxicity, we correlated edelfosine-induced changes in enzyme activity and cell viability among the different NSCLC and SCLC cell lines. We found that NSCLC cells are much more susceptible to the cytotoxic effects of this drug than are SCLC cells. Three out of the four edelfosine-sensitive NSCLC cell lines (NCI-H157, NCI-H520, NCI-H522) exhibit G2/M arrest, significant apoptosis and some degree of JNK activation in response to drug treatment. In contrast, none of the SCLC cell lines exhibit edelfosine-induced G2/M arrest or significant apoptosis. A comparison of the edelfosine-induced effects among the sensitive and resistant lung cancer lines indicates that there is little correlation between edelfosine-induced cytotoxicity and altered activities of JNK, ERK, p38, or cleavage of PARP. These results demonstrate that edelfosine-induced changes in JNK, ERK, p38, or PARP are not good predictors of cell susceptibility to edelfosine-induced cytotoxicity. Thus, edelfosine-induced inactivation of PLC may disrupt signaling cascades downstream of PLC that are unique to individual cellular environments. These findings also identify edelfosine as one of the few potential chemotherapeutic agents that has a greater cytotoxic effect against NSCLC cells than SCLC cells.

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