Methotrexate enhances the antianabolic and antiproliferative effects of 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide riboside

Annelies Beckers, Sophie Organe, Leen Timmermans, Frank Vanderhoydonc, Ludo Deboel, Rita Derua, Etienne Waelkens, Koen Brusselmans, Guido Verhoeven, Johannes V Swinnen
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2006, 5 (9): 2211-7
Because of its ability to mimic a low energy status of the cell, the cell-permeable nucleoside 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide (AICA) riboside was proposed as an antineoplastic agent switching off major energy-consuming processes associated with the malignant phenotype (lipid production, DNA synthesis, cell proliferation, cell migration, etc.). Key to the antineoplastic action of AICA riboside is its conversion to ZMP, an AMP mimetic that at high concentrations activates the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Here, in an attempt to increase the efficacy of AICA riboside, we pretreated cancer cells with methotrexate, an antimetabolite blocking the metabolism of ZMP. Methotrexate enhanced the AICA riboside-induced accumulation of ZMP and led to a decrease in the levels of ATP, which functions as an intrasteric inhibitor of AMPK. Consequently, methotrexate markedly sensitized AMPK for activation by AICA riboside and potentiated the inhibitory effects of AICA riboside on tumor-associated processes. As cotreatment elicited antiproliferative effects already at concentrations of compounds that were only marginally effective when used alone, our findings on the cooperation between methotrexate and AICA riboside provide new opportunities both for the application of classic antimetabolic chemotherapeutics, such as methotrexate, and for the exploitation of the energy-sensing machinery as a target for cancer intervention.

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