Autophagy and the functional roles of Atg5 and beclin-1 in the anti-tumor effects of 3beta androstene 17alpha diol neuro-steroid on malignant glioma cells

Martin R Graf, Wentao Jia, Ross S Johnson, Paul Dent, Clint Mitchell, Roger M Loria
Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2009, 115 (3-5): 137-45
In this study, we demonstrate that the anti-tumor activity of the neuro-steroid, 3beta androstene 17alpha diol (17alpha-AED) on malignant glioma cells is mediated by the induction of autophagy. 17alpha-AED can inhibit the proliferation an induce cell death of multiple, unrelated gliomas with an IC(50) between 8 and 25muM. 17alpha-AED treatment induced the formation of autophagosomes and acidic vesicular organelles in human malignant gliomas which was blocked by bafilomycin A1 or 3-methyladenine. Cleavage of microtubule-associated protein-light chain 3 (LC3), an essential step in autophagosome formation, was detected in human malignant glioma cells exposed to 17alpha-AED. In 17alpha-AED treated T98G glioma cells there was an increase in the autophagy related proteins Atg5 and beclin-1. Silencing of ATG5 or beclin-1 with small interfering RNA significantly reduced the incidence of autophagy in 17alpha-AED treated malignant gliomas and attenuated the cytotoxic effects of the neuro-steroid indicating that the induction of autophagy mediates the anti-glioma activity of 17alpha-AED rather than serving as a cyto-protective response. These results demonstrate that 17alpha-AED possesses significant anti-glioma activity when used at pharmacologically relevant concentrations in vitro and the cytotoxic effects are resultant from the induction of autophagy.

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