Isopetasin and S-isopetasin as novel P-glycoprotein inhibitors against multidrug-resistant cancer cells

Sara Abdelfatah, Madeleine Böckers, Maitane Asensio, Onat Kadioglu, Anette Klinger, Edmond Fleischer, Thomas Efferth
Phytomedicine 2020 March 10, : 153196

BACKGROUND: A major problem of cancer treatment is the development of multidrug resistance (MDR) to chemotherapy. MDR is caused by different mechanisms such as the expression of the ABC-transporters P-glycoprotein (P-gp, MDR1, ABCB1) and breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP, ABCG2). These transporters efflux xenobiotic toxins, including chemotherapeutics, and they were found to be overexpressed in different cancer types.

PURPOSE: Identification of novel molecules that overcome MDR by targeting ABC-transporters.

METHODS: Resazurin reduction assay was used for cytotoxicity test. AutoDock 4.2. was used for molecular docking. The function of P-gp and BCRP was tested using a doxorubicin uptake assay and an ATPase assay. ROS generation was detected using flow cytometry for the measurement of H2 DCFH-DA fluorescence. Annexin/PI staining was applied for the detection of apoptosis. Bioinformatic analyses were performed using LigandScout 3.12. software and DataWarrior software.

RESULTS: In our search for new molecules that selectively act against resistant phenotypes, we identified isopetasin and S-isopetasin, which are bioactive natural products from Petasites formosanus. They exerted collateral sensitivity towards leukemia cells with high P-gp expression in CEM/ADR5000 cells, compared to sensitive wild-type CCRF-CEM leukemia cells. Also, they revealed considerable activity towards breast cancer cells overexpressing breast cancer resistance protein, MDA-MB-231-BCRP clone 23. This motivated us to investigate whether the function of P-gp was inhibited. In-silico results showed the compounds bound with high affinity and interacted with key amino acid residues in P-gp . Then, we found that the two compounds increased doxorubicin accumulation in P-gp overexpressing CEM/ADR5000 by three-fold compared to cells without inhibitor. P-gp-mediated drug efflux was ATP-dependent. Isopetasin and S-isopetasin increased the ATPase activity of human P-gp in a comparable fashion as verapamil used as control P-gp inhibitor. As isopetasin and S-isopetasin exerted dual roles, first as cytotoxic compounds and then as P-gp inhibitors, we suggested that their P-gp inhibition is part of a larger complex of mechanisms to induce cell death in cancer patients. P-gp dysfunction induces mitochondrial stress to generate ATP. Upon continuing stress by P-gp inhibition, the mitochondria generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). Initially established for verapamil, this theory was validated in the present study for isopetasin and S-isopetasin, as treatment with the two candidates increased ROS levels in CEM/ADR5000 cells followed by apoptosis.

CONCLUSION: Our study highlights the importance of isopetasin and S-isopetasin as novel ROS-generating and apoptosis-inducing P-gp inhibitors.

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