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1.  Metastasis of Breast Tumor Cells to Brain Is Suppressed by Phenethyl Isothiocyanate in a Novel In Vivo Metastasis Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67278.
Breast tumor metastasis is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Breast tumor cells frequently metastasize to brain and initiate severe therapeutic complications. The chances of brain metastasis are further elevated in patients with HER2 overexpression. In the current study, we evaluated the anti-metastatic effects of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in a novel murine model of breast tumor metastasis. The MDA-MB-231-BR (BR-brain seeking) breast tumor cells stably transfected with luciferase were injected into the left ventricle of mouse heart and the migration of cells to brain was monitored using a non-invasive IVIS bio-luminescent imaging system. In order to study the efficacy of PEITC in preventing the number of tumor cells migrating to brain, mice were given 10 µmol PEITC by oral gavage for ten days prior to intra-cardiac injection of tumor cells labeled with quantum dots. To evaluate the tumor growth suppressive effects, 10 µmol PEITC was given to mice every day starting 14th day after intra-cardiac cell injection. Based on the presence of quantum dots in the brain section of control and treated mice, our results reveal that PEITC significantly prevented the metastasis of breast cancer cells to brain. Our results demonstrate that the growth of metastatic brain tumors in PEITC treated mice was about 50% less than that of control. According to Kaplan Meir’s curve, median survival of tumor bearing mice treated with PEITC was prolonged by 20.5%. Furthermore as compared to controls, we observed reduced HER2, EGFR and VEGF expression in the brain sections of PEITC treated mice. To the best of our knowledge, our study for the first time demonstrates the anti-metastatic effects of PEITC in vivo in a novel breast tumor metastasis model and provides the rationale for further clinical investigation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067278
PMCID: PMC3695065  PMID: 23826254
2.  Phenethyl isothiocyanate and paclitaxel synergistically enhanced apoptosis and alpha-tubulin hyperacetylation in breast cancer cells 
Combination of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) and paclitaxel (taxol) has been shown to work synergistically to increase apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in breast cancer cells. In this report, we further explored the mechanisms for the synergistic activity of PEITC and taxol in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 (MB) breast cancer cell lines. By Western blotting analysis, treatment of MCF7 cells with both PEITC and taxol led to a 10.4-fold and 5.96-fold increase in specific acetylation of alpha-tubulin over single agent PEITC and taxol, respectively. This synergistic effect on acetylation of alpha-tubulin was also seen in MB cells. The combination of PEITC and taxol also reduced expressions of cell cycle regulator Cdk1, and anti-apoptotic protein bcl-2, enhanced expression of Bax and cleavage of PARP proteins. In conclusion, this study provided biochemical evidence for the mechanism of synergistic effect between the epigenetic agent PEITC and the chemotherapeutic agent taxol.
doi:10.1186/2162-3619-3-5
PMCID: PMC3927854  PMID: 24495785
3.  Differential induction of apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines by phenethyl isothiocyanate, a glutathione depleting agent 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2012;17(5):529-538.
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is a naturally occurring electrophile which depletes intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels and triggers accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). PEITC is of considerable interest as a potential chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic agent, and in this work, we have investigated the effects of PEITC on human breast cancer cell lines. Whereas PEITC readily induced apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells (associated with rapid activation of caspases 9 and 3, and decreased expression of BAX), MCF7 cells were relatively resistant to the apoptosis promoting effects of PEITC. The relative resistance of MCF7 cells was associated with high basal expression of NRF2, a transcription factor that coordinates cellular protective responses to oxidants and electrophiles and raised intracellular levels of GSH. This raised basal expression of NRF2 appeared to be a response to on-going production of ROS, since treatment with the antioxidant and GSH precursor N-acetylcysteine (NAC) reduced NRF2 expression. Moreover, pre-treatment of MDA-MB-231 cells with NAC rendered these cells relatively resistant to PEITC-induced apoptosis. In summary, our data confirm that PEITC may be an effective chemopreventive/therapeutic agents for breast cancer. However, differences in the basal expression of NRF2 and resultant changes in GSH levels may be an important determinant of sensitivity to PEITC-induced apoptosis.
doi:10.1007/s12192-012-0329-3
PMCID: PMC3535168  PMID: 22351438
Phenethyl isothiocyante; Breast cancer; NRF2; Glutathione; Reactive oxygen species
4.  Breast Cancer Cell Growth Inhibition by Phenethyl Isothiocyanate is Associated with Downregulation of Estrogen Receptor-α36 
The dietary isothiocyanates (ITCs) exhibit strong chemopreventive activities for varieties of neoplasms including breast cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying ITC function in breast cancer cells have not been well established. Here, we found that phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) acted more potently than the “pure” antiestrogen ICI 182,780 to inhibit the growth of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer MCF7 and H3396 cells and ER-negative MDA-MB-231 and SK-BR-3 cells. PEITC reduced the steady state levels of ER-α and it’s novel variant, ER-α36 in a dose-and time-dependent manner and inhibited estrogen-induced activation of the MAPK/ERK 1/2 signaling pathway. However, ICI 182,780 that is potent in destabilization of ER-α protein, failed to downregulate ER-α36. Our results thus demonstrated that PEITC functions as a more potent ER-α “disruptor” than the well-known ICI 182,780 to abrogate ER-mediated mitogenic estrogen signaling in breast cancer cells, which provides a molecular explanation for the strong growth inhibitory activity of ITCs in breast cancer cells, and a rational for further exploration of ITCs as chemopreventive agents for human mammary carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1111/j.1582-4934.2009.00877.x
PMCID: PMC2891648  PMID: 19840189
PEITC; breast cancer; estrogen receptor; ER-α36; MAPK; ICI 182; 780
5.  Isothiocyanates Repress Estrogen Receptor α Expression in Breast Cancer Cells 
Oncology reports  2009;21(1):185-192.
The isothiocyantes (ITCs) have long been known to possess chemopreventive activities for varieties of neoplasms including breast cancer, but the molecular mechanism by which ITCs prevent breast cancer development has not been established. In this study, we investigated the effects of benzyl and phenethyl isothiocyanate (BITC and PEITC) on the estrogen-stimulated growth of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα)-positive breast cancer MCF7 and T-47D cells. BITC and PEITC inhibited estrogen-stimulated cell growth and reduced the expression levels of ERα in MCF7 and T-47D cells in a dose and time -dependent and reversible manner. In addition, BITC and PEITC also abrogated the transcriptional activity of ERα and hence inhibited estrogen-stimulated expression of the estrogen responsive gene, pS2. These results demonstrated that BITC and PEITC function as potent ERα disruptors to abrogate mitogenic estrogen signaling in ER-positive breast cancer cells, which provides a molecular explanation for the growth inhibitory function of ITCs in breast cancer development, and a rational for further exploration of ITCs as chemopreventive agents for human mammary carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2637806  PMID: 19082460
isothiocyanate; breast cancer; estrogen receptor
6.  Dietary Phenethyl Isothiocyanate Alters Gene Expression in Human Breast Cancer Cells 
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a component in cruciferous vegetables, can block chemical carcinogenesis in animal models. Our objective was to determine the effect of treatment with PEITC on gene expression changes in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells in order to evaluate potential mechanisms involved in its chemopreventive effects. MCF-7 cells were treated for 48 hours with either PEITC (3 μM) or the vehicle. Total RNA was extracted from cell membrane preparations, and labeled cDNA's representing the mRNA pool were reverse-transcribed directly from total RNA isolated for use in the microarray hybridizations. Two specific human GE Array Kits (Superarray Inc.) that both contain 23 marker genes, related to signal transduction pathways or cancer/tumor suppression, plus 2 housekeeping genes (β-actin and GAPDH), were utilized. Arrays from treated and control cells (n = 4 per group) were evaluated using a Student's t-test. Gene expression was significantly induced for tumor protein p53 (p53), cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1C (p57 Kip2), breast cancer Type 2 early onset (BRCA2), cAMP responsive element binding protein 2 (ATF-2), interleukin 2 (IL-2), heat shock 27 KD protein (hsp27), and CYP19 (aromatase). Induction of p57 Kip2, p53, BRCA2, IL-2, and ATF-2 would be expected to decrease cellular proliferation and increase tumor suppression and/or apoptosis. PEITC treatment produced significant alterations in some genes involved in tumor suppression and cellular proliferation/apoptosis that may be important in explaining the chemopreventive effects of PEITC.
doi:10.1155/2011/462525
PMCID: PMC2952307  PMID: 20953429
7.  In Vitro and In Vivo Effects of Phenethyl Isothiocyanate Treatment on Vimentin Protein Expression in Cancer Cells 
Nutrition and cancer  2013;65(0 1):61-67.
We have shown previously that cancer prevention by cruciferous vegetable constituent phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in a transgenic mouse model of prostate cancer is associated with induction of E-cadherin protein expression. Because suppression of E-cadherin protein concomitant with induction of mesenchymal markers (e.g., vimentin) is a biochemical hallmark of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, a process implicated in cancer metastasis, we hypothesized that PEITC treatment was likely to suppress vimentin protein expression. Contrary to this prediction, exposure of human breast (MDA-MB-231) and prostate cancer cells (PC-3 and DU145) to PEITC resulted in a dose-dependent increase in vimentin protein level, which was observed as early as 6 hours post-treatment and persisted for the duration of the experiment (24 hours). RNA interference of vimentin resulted in a modest augmentation of PEITC-mediated inhibition of MDA-MB-231 and PC-3 cell migration as well as cell viability. Furthermore, the PEITC-induced apoptosis was moderately increased upon siRNA knockdown of vimentin protein in MDA-MB-231 and PC-3 cells. To our surprise, PEITC treatment caused a marked decrease in vimentin protein expression in breast and prostate carcinoma in vivo in transgenic mouse models; although the difference was statistically significant only in the breast carcinomas. The present study highlights the importance of in vivo correlative studies for validation of the in vitro mechanistic observations.
doi:10.1080/01635581.2013.785002
PMCID: PMC3671484  PMID: 23682784
Phenethyl isothiocyanate; Vimentin; Cancer chemoprevention
8.  Comparison of the Effects of Phenethyl Isothiocyanate and Sulforaphane on Gene Expression in Breast Cancer and Normal Mammary Epithelial Cells 
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) and sulforaphane (SF) exhibit tumor preventive activity in lung, prostate, breast and colon cancers. Our objective was to examine the effect of these two isothiocyanates on estrogen receptor-related genes, and genes related to apoptosis and cell cycle in the estrogen-dependent breast cancer cell line MCF7 and in normal human epithelial breast (HME) cells. We treated cells with 0.3 μM or 3.0 μM concentrations of PEITC or SF. In HME cells, gene expression was significantly altered for 23 genes by PEITC at a concentration of 0.3 μM and 4 genes at 3.0 μM. SF altered the expression of 16 genes at a concentration of 0.3 μM and 2 genes at 3.0 μM. In HME cells, genes altered by both PEITC and SF exhibited changes in gene expression that were similar in extent as well as direction of change. In MCF-7 cells, PEITC did not produce any significant changes in the gene expression at both treatment levels. SF produced significant changes in 7 genes, but only at the higher treatment level of 3.0 μM. Normal mammary cells exhibited more changes in the expression of estrogen receptor related genes than did breast cancer cells, and significantly these changes occurred predominantly at the low concentration of 0.3 μM, a concentration achievable by dietary input of isothiocyanates. Novel findings were the upregulation of the pro-apoptotic gene BAD and estrogen receptor beta gene in normal human mammary cells. These gene alterations observed, along with upregulation of tumor suppressors p21 and p27, may provide a protective effect to mammary cells against breast cancer.
doi:10.3181/0808-RM-241
PMCID: PMC3698577  PMID: 19144873
phenethyl isothiocyanate; sulforaphane; human mammary epithelial cells; breast cancer MCF-7 cells; breast cancer prevention; gene expression
9.  Trastuzumab Produces Therapeutic Actions by Upregulating miR-26a and miR-30b in Breast Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31422.
Objective
Trastuzumab has been used for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer (BC). However, a subset of BC patients exhibited resistance to trastuzumab therapy. Thus, clarifying the molecular mechanism of trastuzumab treatment will be beneficial to improve the treatment of HER2-positive BC patients. In this study, we identified trastuzumab-responsive microRNAs that are involved in the therapeutic effects of trastuzumab.
Methods and Results
RNA samples were obtained from HER2-positive (SKBR3 and BT474) and HER2-negetive (MCF7 and MDA-MB-231) cells with and without trastuzumab treatment for 6 days. Next, we conducted a microRNA profiling analysis using these samples to screen those microRNAs that were up- or down-regulated only in HER2-positive cells. This analysis identified miR-26a and miR-30b as trastuzumab-inducible microRNAs. Transfecting miR-26a and miR-30b induced cell growth suppression in the BC cells by 40% and 32%, respectively. A cell cycle analysis showed that these microRNAs induced G1 arrest in HER2-positive BC cells as trastuzumab did. An Annexin-V assay revealed that miR-26a but not miR-30b induced apoptosis in HER2-positive BC cells. Using the prediction algorithms for microRNA targets, we identified cyclin E2 (CCNE2) as a target gene of miR-30b. A luciferase-based reporter assay demonstrated that miR-30b post-transcriptionally reduced 27% (p = 0.005) of the gene expression by interacting with two binding sites in the 3′-UTR of CCNE2.
Conclusion
In BC cells, trastuzumab modulated the expression of a subset of microRNAs, including miR-26a and miR-30b. The upregulation of miR-30b by trastuzumab may play a biological role in trastuzumab-induced cell growth inhibition by targeting CCNE2.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031422
PMCID: PMC3288043  PMID: 22384020
10.  Inhibition of androgen-responsive LNCaP prostate cancer cell tumor xenograft growth by dietary phenethyl isothiocyanate correlates with decreased angiogenesis and inhibition of cell attachment 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;40(4):1113-1121.
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is a candidate anticancer compound found in certain cruciferous vegetables. In our tumor cell xenograft model, dietary administration of PEITC (100–150 mg/kg body weight/d) inhibited androgen-responsive LNCaP human prostate cancer cell tumor growth. We found that dietary treatment with PEITC significantly inhibited tumor platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM-1/CD31) expression, a marker of angiogenesis. By contrast, we did not find the inhibitory effects of PEITC on tumor growth to be associated with alteration of specific markers for apoptosis, cell proliferation or androgen receptor-mediated pathways. Consistent with in vivo results, PEITC exerted little effects on cell proliferation, cell cycle and androgen-dependent pathways. Interestingly, PEITC significantly attenuated LNCaP cell plating efficiency that correlated with inhibition of integrin family proteins integrin β1, α2 and α6 mRNA expression. Thus, PEITC may be a dietary factor that inhibits androgen-responsive prostate tumor growth indirectly by selectively targeting factors involved in the tumor microenvironment.
doi:10.3892/ijo.2012.1335
PMCID: PMC3584556  PMID: 22266918
angiogenesis; phenethyl isothiocyanate; prevention; prostate cancer; xenograft
11.  Phenethyl Isothiocyanate (PEITC) Inhibits the Growth of Human Oral Squamous Carcinoma HSC-3 Cells through G0/G1 Phase Arrest and Mitochondria-Mediated Apoptotic Cell Death 
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), an effective anticancer and chemopreventive agent, has been reported to inhibit cancer cell growth through cell-cycle arrest and induction of apoptotic events in various human cancer cells models. However, whether PEITC inhibits human oral squamous cell carcinoma HSC-3 cell growth and its underlying mechanisms is still not well elucidated. In the present study, we evaluated the inhibitory effects of PEITC in HSC-3 cells and examined PEITC-modulated cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. The contrast-phase and flow cytometric assays were used for examining cell morphological changes and viability, respectively. The changes of cell-cycle and apoptosis-associated protein levels were determined utilizing Western blotting in HSC-3 cells after exposure to PEITC. Our results indicated that PEITC effectively inhibited the HSC-3 cells' growth and caused apoptosis. PEITC induced G0/G1 phase arrest through the effects of associated protein such as p53, p21, p17, CDK2 and cyclin E, and it triggered apoptosis through promotion of Bax and Bid expression and reduction of Bcl-2, leading to decrease the levels of mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), and followed the releases of cytochrome c, AIF and Endo G then for causing apoptosis in HSC-3 cells. These results suggest that PEITC could be an antitumor compound for oral cancer therapy.
doi:10.1155/2012/718320
PMCID: PMC3418800  PMID: 22919418
12.  The Potential Utility of Curcumin in the Treatment of HER-2-Overexpressed Breast Cancer: An In Vitro and In Vivo Comparison Study with Herceptin 
HER-2 is an important oncoprotein overexpressed in about 15–25% of breast cancers. We hypothesized that the ability of curcumin to downregulate HER-2 oncoprotein and inhibit the signal transduction pathway of PI3K/Akt, MAPK, and NF-κB activation may be important in the treatment of HER-2-overexpressed breast cancer. To examine the effect of curcumin on breast cancer cells, MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, MCF-10A, BT-474, and SK-BR-3-hr (a herceptin resistant strain from SK-BR-3) cells were used for in vitro analysis. The in vivo effect of curcumin on HER-2-overexpressed breast cancer was investigated with the HER-2-overexpressed BT-474 xenograft model. Cell growth, cell cycle change, the antimobility effect, signal transduction, and xenograft volume analysis between groups treated with herceptin and/or curcumin were tested. Curcumin decreased the cell growth of various breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, MCF-10A, BT-474, and SK-BR-3-hr). In Western blot analysis, the phosphorylation of Akt, MAPK, and expression of NF-κB were reduced in BT-474 cells, but not in SK-BR-3-hr cells, after treatment with herceptin. When treated with curcumin, the HER-2 oncoprotein, phosphorylation of Akt, MAPK and expression of NF-κB were decreased in both BT-474 and SK-BR-3-hr cells. In the BT-474 xenograft model, though not as much as herceptin, curcumin did effectively decrease the tumor size. The combination of curcumin with herceptin was not better than herceptin alone; however, the combination of taxol and curcumin had an antitumor effect comparable with taxol and herceptin. The results suggested that curcumin has potential as a treatment for HER-2-overexpressed breast cancer.
doi:10.1155/2012/486568
PMCID: PMC3162976  PMID: 21876713
13.  Effect of Lapatinib on the Outgrowth of Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells to the Brain 
Background
The brain is increasingly being recognized as a sanctuary site for metastatic tumor cells in women with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer who receive trastuzumab therapy. There are no approved or widely accepted treatments for brain metastases other than steroids, cranial radiotherapy, and surgical resection. We examined the efficacy of lapatinib, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and HER2 kinases, for preventing the outgrowth of breast cancer cells in the brain in a mouse xenograft model of brain metastasis.
Methods
EGFR-overexpressing MDA-MB-231-BR (231-BR) brain-seeking breast cancer cells were transfected with an expression vector that contained or lacked the HER2 cDNA and used to examine the effect of lapatinib on the activation (ie, phosphorylation) of cell signaling proteins by immunoblotting, on cell growth by the tetrazolium salt 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay, and on cell migration using a Boyden chamber assay. The outgrowth of large (ie, >50 μm2) and micrometastases was counted in brain sections from nude mice that had been injected into the left cardiac ventricle with 231-BR cells and, beginning 5 days later, treated by oral gavage with lapatinib or vehicle (n = 22–26 mice per treatment group). All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
In vitro, lapatinib inhibited the phosphorylation of EGFR, HER2, and downstream signaling proteins; cell proliferation; and migration in 231-BR cells (both with and without HER2). Among mice injected with 231-BR-vector cells, those treated with 100 mg lapatinib/kg body weight had 54% fewer large metastases 24 days after starting treatment than those treated with vehicle (mean number of large metastases per brain section: 1.56 vs 3.36, difference = 1.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.92 to 2.68, P < .001), whereas treatment with 30 mg lapatinib/kg body weight had no effect. Among mice injected with 231-BR-HER2 cells, those treated with either dose of lapatinib had 50%–53% fewer large metastases than those treated with vehicle (mean number of large metastases per brain section, 30 mg/kg vs vehicle: 3.21 vs 6.83, difference = 3.62, 95% CI = 2.30 to 4.94, P < .001; 100 mg/kg vs vehicle: 3.44 vs 6.83, difference = 3.39, 95% CI = 2.08 to 4.70, P < .001). Immunohistochemical analysis revealed reduced phosphorylation of HER2 in 231-BR-HER2 cell–derived brain metastases from mice treated with the higher dose of lapatinib compared with 231-BR-HER2 cell–derived brain metastases from vehicle-treated mice (P < .001).
Conclusions
Lapatinib is the first HER2-directed drug to be validated in a preclinical model for activity against brain metastases of breast cancer.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djn216
PMCID: PMC2575427  PMID: 18664652
14.  Effect of Lapatinib on the Outgrowth of Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells to the Brain 
Background
The brain is increasingly being recognized as a sanctuary site for metastatic tumor cells in women with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer who receive trastuzumab therapy. There are no approved or widely accepted treatments for brain metastases other than steroids, cranial radiotherapy, and surgical resection. We examined the efficacy of lapatinib, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and HER2 kinases, for preventing the outgrowth of breast cancer cells in the brain in a mouse xenograft model of brain metastasis.
Methods
EGFR-overexpressing MDA-MB-231-BR (231-BR) brain-seeking breast cancer cells were transfected with an expression vector that contained or lacked the HER2 cDNA and used to examine the effect of lapatinib on the activation (ie, phosphorylation) of cell signaling proteins by immunoblotting, on cell growth by the tetrazolium salt 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay, and on cell migration using a Boyden chamber assay. The outgrowth of large (ie, >50 µm2) and micrometastases was counted in brain sections from nude mice that had been injected into the left cardiac ventricle with 231-BR cells and, beginning 5 days later, treated by oral gavage with lapatinib or vehicle (n = 22-26 mice per treatment group). All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
In vitro, lapatinib inhibited the phosphorylation of EGFR, HER2, and downstream signaling proteins; cell proliferation; and migration in 231-BR cells (both with and without HER2). Among mice injected with 231-BR-vector cells, those treated with 100 mg lapatinib/kg body weight had 54% fewer large metastases 24 days after starting treatment than those treated with vehicle (mean number of large metastases per brain section: 1.56 vs 3.36, difference = 1.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.92 to 2.68, P < .001), whereas treatment with 30 mg lapatinib/kg body weight had no effect. Among mice injected with 231-BR-HER2 cells, those treated with either dose of lapatinib had 50%-53% fewer large metastases than those treated with vehicle (mean number of large metastases per brain section, 30 mg/kg vs vehicle: 3.21 vs 6.83, difference = 3.62, 95% CI = 2.30 to 4.94, P < .001; 100 mg/kg vs vehicle: 3.44 vs 6.83, difference = 3.39, 95% CI = 2.08 to 4.70, P < .001). Immunohistochemical analysis revealed reduced phosphorylation of HER2 in 231-BR-HER2 cell-derived brain metastases from mice treated with the higher dose of lapatinib compared with 231-BR-HER2 cell-derived brain metastases from vehicle-treated mice (P < .001).
Conclusions
Lapatinib is the first HER2-directed drug to be validated in a preclinical model for activity against brain metastases of breast cancer.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djn216
PMCID: PMC2575427  PMID: 18664652
15.  CIP2A is a target of bortezomib in human triple negative breast cancer cells 
Introduction
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is very aggressive and currently has no specific therapeutic targets, such as hormone receptors or human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2); therefore, prognosis is poor. Bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor, may exert efficacy in TNBC through its multiple cellular effects. Here, we tested the efficacy of bortezomib and examined the drug mechanism in breast cancer cells.
Methods
Five breast cancer cell lines: TNBC HCC-1937, MDA-MB-231, and MDA-MB-468; HER2-overexpressing MDA-MB-453; and estrogen receptor positive MCF-7 were used for in vitro studies. Apoptosis was examined by both flow cytometry and Western Blot. Signal transduction pathways in cells were assessed by Western Blot. Gene silencing was done by small interfering RNA (siRNA). In vivo efficacy of bortezomib was tested in nude mice with breast cancer xenografts. Immunohistochemical study was performed on tumor tissues from patients with TNBC.
Results
Bortezomib induced significant apoptosis, which was independent of its proteasome inhibition, in the three TNBC cell lines, but not in MDA-MB-453 or MCF-7 cells. Furthermore, cancerous inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (CIP2A), a cellular inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), mediated the apoptotic effect of bortezomib. We showed that bortezomib inhibited CIP2A in association with p-Akt downregulation in a dose- and time-dependent manner in all sensitive TNBC cells, whereas no alterations in CIP2A expression and p-Akt were noted in bortezomib-resistant cells. Overexpression of CIP2A upregulated p-Akt and protected MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 cells from bortezomib-induced apoptosis, whereas silencing CIP2A by siRNA overcame the resistance to bortezomib-induced apoptosis in MCF-7 cells. In addition, bortezomib downregulated CIP2A mRNA but did not affect the degradation of CIP2A protein. Furthermore, bortezomib exerted in vivo antitumor activity in HCC-1937 xenografted tumors, but not in MCF-7 tumors. Bortezomib downregulated CIP2A expression in the HCC-1937 tumors but not in the MCF-7 tumors. Importantly, CIP2A expression is readily detectable in tumor samples from TNBC patients.
Conclusions
CIP2A is a major determinant mediating bortezomib-induced apoptosis in TNBC cells. CIP2A may thus be a potential therapeutic target in TNBC.
doi:10.1186/bcr3175
PMCID: PMC3446403  PMID: 22537901
16.  Inhibition of EGFR-AKT Axis Results in the Suppression of Ovarian Tumors In Vitro and in Preclinical Mouse Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43577.
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in women. Genetic alterations including overexpression of EGFR play a crucial role in ovarian carcinogenesis. Here we evaluated the effect of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in ovarian tumor cells in vitro and in vivo. Oral administration of 12 µmol PEITC resulted in drastically suppressing ovarian tumor growth in a preclinical mouse model. Our in vitro studies demonstrated that PEITC suppress the growth of SKOV-3, OVCAR-3 and TOV-21G human ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner. Growth inhibitory effects of PEITC were mediated by inhibition of EGFR and AKT, which are known to be overexpressed in ovarian tumors. PEITC treatment caused significant down regulation of constitutive protein levels as well as phosphorylation of EGFR at Tyr1068 in various ovarian cancer cells. In addition, PEITC treatment drastically reduced the phosphorylation of AKT which is downstream to EGFR and disrupted mTOR signaling. PEITC treatment also inhibited the kinase activity of AKT as observed by the down regulation of p-GSK in OVCAR-3 and TOV-21G cells. AKT overexpression or TGF treatment blocked PEITC induced apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells. These results suggest that PEITC targets EGFR/AKT pathway in our model. In conclusion, our study suggests that PEITC could be used alone or in combination with other therapeutic agents to treat ovarian cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043577
PMCID: PMC3428303  PMID: 22952709
17.  Phospho-ibuprofen (MDC-917) suppresses breast cancer growth: an effect controlled by the thioredoxin system 
Introduction
We have recently synthesized phospho-ibuprofen (P-I; MDC-917), a safer derivative of ibuprofen, which has shown anti-cancer activity. We investigated its efficacy and mechanism of action in the treatment of breast cancer in preclinical models.
Methods
We evaluated the anti-breast-cancer efficacy of P-I alone or incorporated into liposomes (Lipo-P-I) in human estrogen receptor-positive (MCF-7) and triple-negative, i.e., estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative (MDA-MB231) breast cancer cell lines - as they represent the most frequent (estrogen receptor-positive) and the most difficult-to-treat (triple-negative) subtypes of breast cancer - and their xenografts in nude mice. We assessed the effect of P-I on the levels of reactive oxygen nitrogen species in response to P-I using molecular probes, on the thioredoxin system (expression and redox status of thioredoxin-1 (Trx-1) and thioredoxin reductase activity), on cyclooxygenase 2, NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase cell signaling; and on the growth of xenografts with stably knocked-down Trx-1.
Results
Compared with controls, P-I 400 mg/kg/day inhibited the growth of MDA-MB231 xenografts by 266%, while the growth of MCF-7 xenografts was inhibited 51% byP-I 300 mg/kg/day and 181% by Lipo-P-I 300 mg/kg/day. In both cell lines, P-I induced oxidative stress and suppressed the thioredoxin system (oxidized Trx-1 and decreased its expression; inhibited thioredoxin reductase activity). These changes triggered downstream redox signaling: the activity of NF-κB was suppressed and the Trx-1-ASK1 complex was dissociated, activating the p38 and JNK mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades. Trx-1 knockdown abrogated the anti-cancer effect of P-I in vitro and in vivo.
Conclusion
P-I is safe and effective against breast cancer. Liposomal formulation enhances its efficacy; the effect is heavily dependent on the induction of oxidative stress and the suppression of the thioredoxin system. P-I merits further evaluation as an agent for the treatment of breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/bcr3105
PMCID: PMC3496138  PMID: 22293394
18.  Comparative Impact of Trastuzumab and Cyclophosphamide on HER-2–Positive Human Breast Cancer Xenografts 
Purpose
Metronomic chemotherapy is a minimally toxic and frequently effective new treatment strategy that is beginning to show promising phase II clinical trial results, particularly for metastatic breast cancer when combined with various molecularly targeted antitumor agents. Here, we assessed a treatment strategy that uses trastuzumab plus daily oral metronomic cyclophosphamide on metastatic Her-2–positive human breast cancer models.
Experimental Design
Treatments were initiated on orthotopic transplanted primary tumors as well as established visceral metastatic disease of two independent Her-2–positive breast cancer models, both independently derived from the human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line. Outcome was assessed by noninvasive measurements of tumor cell–secreted human choriogonadotropin in the urine as a surrogate marker of relative tumor burden, or by whole body bioluminescent imaging, in addition to prolongation of survival.
Results
Orthotopic primary tumors responded to trastuzumab monotherapy with significant growth delays, whereas minimal antitumor effect was observed when mice with metastatic disease were treated. Nevertheless, trastuzumab showed a benefit in this latter setting when combined with metronomic low-dose cyclophosphamide as assessed by prolongation of survival. This benefit was similar to trastuzumab plus maximum tolerated dose cyclophosphamide, but was associated with lesser toxicity.
Conclusions
Trastuzumab combined with metronomic cyclophosphamide may be an effective long-term maintenance strategy for the treatment of Her-2–positive metastatic breast cancer.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-0931
PMCID: PMC2788792  PMID: 19825954
19.  Surveillance of spontaneous breast cancer metastasis by TRAIL-expressing CD34+ cells in a xenograft model 
Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), delivered as a membrane-bound molecule expressed on the surface of adenovirus-transduced CD34+ cells (CD34-TRAIL+), was analyzed for its apoptotic activity in vitro on 12 breast cancer cell lines representing estrogen receptor-positive, HER2+ and triple-negative (TN) subtypes and for its effect on tumor growth, vascularization, necrosis, and lung metastasis incidence in NOD/SCID mice xenografted with the TN breast cancer line MDA-MB-231. Mesenchymal TN cell lines, which are the richest in putative tumor stem cells among the different breast cancer cell subtypes, were the most susceptible to apoptosis induced by CD34-TRAIL+ cells. Indeed, tumor cell “stemness”, assessed based on the proportion of CD44+/CD24−/low cells, was significantly correlated with susceptibility to TRAIL. Moreover, in vitro cytotoxicity experiments showed that CD34-TRAIL+ cells selectively targeted CD44+/CD24−/low cells. Although in vivo treatment with CD34-TRAIL+ cells did not lead to tumor growth inhibition, treated mice revealed significantly larger areas of necrosis associated with damage of tumor vasculature than did control mice. Moreover, lungs from MDA-MD-231 tumor-bearing mice were completely free of metastases at 12 days after the last injection of CD34-TRAIL+ cells, whereas metastases were present in all control mouse lungs. An anti-metastatic effect of CD34-TRAIL+ cells was also observed in a model of experimental lung metastases. The correlation between in vitro susceptibility to membrane-bound TRAIL and tumor stem cell content, together with CD34-TRAIL+ cell-induced inhibition of the metastatic process, points to the selective targeting of cancer stem cells by CD34-armed cells and the potential value of such cells in eradicating tumor stem cells before the onset of overt metastases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-012-2281-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10549-012-2281-4
PMCID: PMC3483102  PMID: 23053664
mTRAIL; Metastasis; Triple-negative breast cancer; Cancer stem cells
20.  Effect of a farnesyl transferase inhibitor (R115777) on ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast in a human xenograft model and on breast and ovarian cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo 
Breast Cancer Research  2006;8(2):R21.
Introduction
The ras pathway is essential for cell growth and proliferation. The effects of R115777, a farnesyl transferase inhibitor, were investigated in cancer cell lines expressing varying levels of growth factor receptors and with differing ras status. Effects on tumour xenografts and human ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast in a xenograft mouse model were also tested.
Method
In vitro, the concentrations required to reduce cell numbers by 50% (50% inhibitory concentration) were established (MDA-MB231, MCF-7, MCF-7/HER2-18, BT-474, SK-BR3 and SKOV3). Human DCIS was implanted in nude mice or, in separate experiments, cultured cells were injected (MDA-MB231, MCF-7/HER2-18, SKOV3) and allowed to form tumours. Proliferation and apoptosis were determined by immunohistochemistry in xenografts and cell tumours.
Results
The 50% inhibitory concentrations varied a hundred-fold, from 39 nmol/l (± 26 nmol/l) for SKBR3 to 5.9 μmol/l(± 0.8 μmol/l) for MDA-MB231. In MCF-7/HER2-18 and SKOV3 cells the levels of tumour growth inhibition were approximately 85% and 40%, respectively. There was a significant decrease in the cell turnover index (CTI; proliferation/apoptosis). In MDA-MB 231 with activated k-ras no inhibition was observed. In treated DCIS xenografts proliferation decreased and apoptosis increased. The CTI ratio between the start and 1 and 2 weeks of treatment were 1.99 and 1.50, respectively, for controls and 0.85 (P = 0.005) and 0.75 (P = 0.08) for treated xenografts.
Conclusion
Treatment with the farnesyl transferase inhibitor reduced cell growth in vitro and cell tumour growth in vivo. In DCIS treatment resulted in a reduced CTI. R115777 is a promising treatment for breast cancer but the relation between effect and growth factor receptor and ras status has to be established.
doi:10.1186/bcr1395
PMCID: PMC1557711  PMID: 16611371
21.  Effect of orally administered phenethyl isothiocyanate on hepatic gene expression in rats 
Molecular nutrition & food research  2010;54(12):1802-1806.
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is a constituent of cruciferous vegetables that has demonstrated cancer preventive activity in a number of cancer models including lung, prostate, and breast cancer. Our objective was to examine the effects of the oral administration of PEITC for 7 days on the hepatic expression of genes important in drug metabolism and toxicity in Sprague Dawley rats. The liver is the major site for the metabolism of various xenobiotics and carcinogens, and determining the effects of PEITC on the gene expression of hepatic enzymes may provide insight into mechanisms underlying the cancer preventive activity of PEITC. Using a microarray containing 282 genes, we observed that PEITC significantly up-regulated UDP-glucuronosyltransferase UGT1A6 and strongly down-regulated nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT). We also confirmed the down-regulation of NNMT by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. NNMT was recently shown to be elevated in the serum of tumor bearing patients with pancreatic, lung, and colorectal cancer, and may be involved in cell migration. Other genes that were significantly up-regulated were the drug metabolizing enzyme cyp2b15, the anti-apoptotic gene bcl2l2, and the stress regulators Gadd45b, Dnajb9, Dnajb5 and Hspb1. Our results indicate new targets that may be important in the mechanisms of the anticancer effects of PEITC. Of particular significance was the down-regulation of NNMT which may represent a new target for the treatment of a variety of cancers.
doi:10.1002/mnfr.200900607
PMCID: PMC3017723  PMID: 20626002
22.  Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition: effects on tumour growth, cell cycling and lymphangiogenesis in a xenograft model of breast cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;96(4):575-582.
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is associated with poor-prognosis breast cancer. We used a nude mouse xenograft model to determine the effects of COX-2 inhibition in breast cancer. Oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive MCF7/HER2-18 and ER-negative MDAMB231 breast cancer cell lines were injected into nude mice and allowed to form tumours. Mice then received either chow containing Celecoxib (a COX-2 inhibitor) or control and tumour growth measured. Tumour proliferation, apoptosis, COX-2, lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis were assessed by immunohistochemistry (IHC), Western blotting or Q-PCR. Celecoxib inhibited median tumour growth in MCF7/HER2-18 (58.7%, P=0.029) and MDAMB231 (46.3%, P=0.0002) cell lines compared to control. Cyclooxygenase-2 expression decreased following Celecoxib treatment (MCF7/HER2-18 median control 65.3% vs treated 22.5%, P=0.0001). Celecoxib increased apoptosis in MCF7/HER2-18 tumours (TUNEL 0.52% control vs 0.73% treated, P=0.0004) via inactivation of AKT (median pAKTser473 57.3% control vs 35.5% treated, P=0.0001 – confirmed at Western blotting). Q-PCR demonstrated decreased podoplanin RNA (lymphangiogenesis marker) in the MCF7/HER2-18 – median 2.9 copies treated vs 66.6 control (P=0.05) and MDAMB231-treated groups – median 160.7 copies vs 0.05 control copies (P=0.015), confirmed at IHC. Cyclooxygenase-2 is associated with high levels of activated AKTser473 and lymphangiogenesis in breast cancer. Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition decreases tumour growth, and may potentially decrease recurrence, by inactivating AKT and decreasing lymphangiogenesis.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603593
PMCID: PMC2360050  PMID: 17285134
breast; cyclooxygenase-2; apoptosis; lymphangiogenesis
23.  Phenethyl Isothiocyanate inhibits STAT3 activation in prostate cancer cells 
This study was undertaken to investigate the mechanism by which phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a natural compound from cruciferous vegetables, exhibits antitumor effect on prostate cancer cells. Cell proliferation, cell cycle, western blot, gene transfer and reporter assays were used to test the effects of PEITC on the growth and IL6/JAK/STAT3 pathway in prostate cancer. The result showed that PEITC significantly inhibited DU145 cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner and induced the cell arrest at G2-M phase. PEITC inhibited both constitutive and interleukin 6 (IL-6)-induced STAT3 activity in DU145 cells. IL-6-stimulated phosphorylation of JAK2, an STAT3 upstream kinase, was also attenuated by PEITC. Moreover, an antioxidant reagent, N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) which suppresses reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, reversed the early inhibitory effects of PEITC on cell proliferation, constitutive or IL-6-mediated JAK-STAT3 phosphorylation in PCa cells. Taken together, our data demonstrated that PEITC can inhibit the activation of the JAK-STAT3 signal-cascade in prostate cancer cells and the underlying mechanism may be partially involved with blocking cellular ROS production during the early stage of the signaling activation by IL-6.
doi:10.1002/mnfr.200800253
PMCID: PMC3964815  PMID: 19437484
Phenethyl isothiocyanate; IL-6; STAT3; Androgen independent growth
24.  The in vitro influences of epidermal growth factor and heregulin-β1 on the efficacy of trastuzumab used in Her-2 positive breast adenocarcinoma 
Background
Human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (Her-2) is over expressed in approximately 25-30% of all primary breast tumors resulting in a distinctive breast cancer subtype associated with a poor prognosis and a decrease in overall survival. Trastuzumab (Herceptin®), an anti-Her-2 monoclonal antibody, has dramatically altered the prognosis of Her-2 positive breast cancer. Trastuzumab is, however, associated with primary and acquired resistance.
Aim and methods
To investigate the in-vitro effects of trastuzumab on cell viability (tetrazolium conversion assay), cell cycling (propidium iodide staining), apoptosis (executioner caspases and annexin-V) and relative surface Her-2 receptor expression (anti-Her-2 affibody molecule) in Her-2-positive (SK-Br-3) and oestrogen receptor positive (MCF-7) breast adenocarcinoma cells and to determine potential augmentation of these effects by two endogenous ligands, epidermal growth factor (EGF) and heregulin-β1 (HRG- β1).
Results
Cell viability was decreased in SK-Br-3 cells by exposure to trastuzumab. This was associated with G1 accumulation and decreased relative surface Her-2 receptor density, supporting the cytostatic nature of trastuzumab in vitro. SK-Br-3 cells exposed to EGF and heregulin-β1 produced differential cell responses alone and in combination with trastuzumab, in some instances augmenting cell viability and cell cycling. Relative surface Her-2 receptor density was reduced substantially by trastuzumab, EGF and heregulin-β1. These reductions were amplified when ligands were used in combination with trastuzumab.
Conclusion
Cell type specific interactions of endogenous ligands appear to be dependent on absolute Her-receptor expression and cross activation of signaling pathways. This supports the notion that receptor density of Her-family members and multiplicity of growth ligands are of mutual importance in breast cancer cell proliferation and therefore also in resistance associated with trastuzumab.
doi:10.1186/1475-2867-13-97
PMCID: PMC3852844  PMID: 24119761
Her-2 receptors; Trastuzumab; EGF; Heregulin-β1; SK-Br-3 cells
25.  Matrine effectively inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells through a mechanism related to the NF-κB signaling pathway 
Oncology Letters  2013;6(2):517-520.
Matrine is an alkaloid isolated from Sophora flavescens. The present study aimed to determine whether matrine effectively inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells, and the underlying mechanism(s) of its antitumor function. The effects of matrine on the cell viability of ER-positive MCF7 cells, HER2-positive BT-474 cells and highly metastatic MDA-MB-231 cells were measured using MTT and apoptosis assays. Western blot analysis was performed to investigate the expression levels of the inhibitor of κB (IκB) kinase β (IKKβ) in cells treated with or without matrine. It was observed that the matrine treatment resulted in the death of the three types of cancer cells, but significantly less toxicity was observed in the control cancer cells. The experimental results also suggested that the antitumor effects of matrine on breast cancer cells may be associated with the downregulation of IKKβ expression by matrine, as indicated by the western blot analysis results. The present results suggested that matrine may be used as an effective drug candidate for treating breast cancers in the future, following further research.
doi:10.3892/ol.2013.1399
PMCID: PMC3789031  PMID: 24137358
matrine; breast cancer; NF-κB; IKKβ

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