Inactivation of NF-kappaB by 3,3'-diindolylmethane contributes to increased apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutic agent in breast cancer cells

K M Wahidur Rahman, Shadan Ali, Amro Aboukameel, Sanila H Sarkar, Zhiwei Wang, Philip A Philip, Wael A Sakr, Avraham Raz
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2007, 6 (10): 2757-65
Constitutive activation of Akt or nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) has been reported to play a role in de novo resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents, which is a major cause of treatment failure in cancer chemotherapy. Previous studies have shown that 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), a major in vivo acid-catalyzed condensation product of indole-3-carbinol, is a potent inducer of apoptosis, inhibitor of tumor angiogenesis, and inactivator of Akt/NF-kappaB signaling in breast cancer cells. However, little is known regarding the inactivation of Akt/NF-kappaB that leads to chemosensitization of breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents, such as Taxotere. Therefore, we examined whether the inactivation Akt/NF-kappaB signaling caused by B-DIM could sensitize breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents both in vitro and in vivo. MDA-MB-231 cells were simultaneously treated with 15 to 45 micromol/L B-DIM and 0.5 to 1.0 nmol/L Taxotere for 24 to 72 h. Cell growth inhibition assay, apoptosis assay, electrophoretic mobility shift assay, and Western blotting were done. The combination treatment of 30 micromol/L B-DIM with 1.0 nmol/L Taxotere elicited significantly greater inhibition of cell growth compared with either agent alone. The combination treatment induced greater apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells compared with single agents. Moreover, we found that NF-kappaB activity was significantly decreased in cells treated with B-DIM and Taxotere. We also have tested our hypothesis using transfection studies, followed by combination treatment with B-DIM/Taxotere, and found that combination treatment significantly inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells mediated by the inactivation of NF-kappaB, a specific target in vitro and in vivo. These results were also supported by animal experiments, which clearly showed that B-DIM sensitized the breast tumors to Taxotere, which resulted in greater antitumor activity mediated by the inhibition of Akt and NF-kappaB. Collectively, our results clearly suggest that inhibition of Akt/NF-kappaB signaling by B-DIM leads to chemosensitization of breast cancer cells to Taxotere, which may contribute to increased growth inhibition and apoptosis in breast cancer cells. The data obtained from our studies could be a novel breakthrough in cancer therapeutics by using nontoxic agents, such as B-DIM, in combination with other conventional therapeutic agents, such as Taxotere.

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