Cholangiocarcinoma (CC) is a primary liver cancer with increasing incidence worldwide. Despite all efforts made in past years, prognosis remains to be poor. At least in part, this might be explained by a pronounced resistance of CC cells to undergo apoptosis. Thus, new therapeutic strategies are imperatively required. In this study we investigated the effect of Salinomycin, a polyether ionophore antibiotic, on CC cells as an appropriate agent to treat CC. Salinomycin was quite recently identified to induce apoptosis in cancer stem cells and to overcome apoptosis-resistance in several leukemia-cells and other cancer cell lines of different origin.
To delineate the effects of Salinomycin on CC, we established an in vitro cell culture model using three different human CC cell lines. After treatment apoptosis as well as migration and proliferation behavior was assessed and additional cell cycle analyses were performed by flowcytometry.
By demonstrating Annexin V and TUNEL positivity of human CC cells, we provide evidence that Salinomycin reveals the capacity to break apoptosis-resistance in CC cells. Furthermore, we are able to demonstrate that the non-apoptotic cell fraction is characterized by sustainable impaired migration and proliferation. Cell cycle analyses revealed G2-phase accumulation of human CC cells after treatment with Salinomycin. Even though apoptosis is induced in two of three cell lines of CC cells, one cell line remained unaffected in regard of apoptosis but revealed as the other CC cells decreased proliferation and migration.
In this study, we are able to demonstrate that Salinomycin is an effective agent against previously resistant CC cells and might be a potential candidate for the treatment of CC in the future.