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Oncol Rep. 2012 Nov;28(5):1851-8. doi: 10.3892/or.2012.1977. Epub 2012 Aug 22.

Sulforaphane synergistically enhances the cytotoxicity of arsenic trioxide in multiple myeloma cells via stress-mediated pathways.

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  • 1The Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016 , USA.

Abstract

Persistent paraprotein production in plasma cells necessitates a highly developed rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that is unusually susceptible to perturbations in protein synthesis. This biology is believed to account for the exquisite sensitivity of multiple myeloma (MM) to the proteasomal inhibitor bortezomib (BTZ). Despite remarkable response rates to BTZ in MM, BTZ carries the potential for serious side-effects and development of resistance. We, therefore, sought to identify therapeutic combinations that effectively disrupt proteostasis in order to provide new potential treatments for MM. We found that sulforaphane, a dietary isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, inhibits TNFα-induced Iκβ proteasomal degradation in a manner similar to BTZ. Like BTZ, sulforaphane synergistically enhances the cytotoxicity of arsenic trioxide (ATO), an agent with clinical activity in MM. ATO and sulforaphane co-treatment augmented apoptotic induction as demonstrated by cleavage of caspase-3, -4 and PARP. The enhanced apoptotic response was dependent upon production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as demonstrated by glutathione depletion and partial inhibition of the apoptotic cascade after pretreatment with the radical scavenger N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). Combination treatment resulted in enhanced ER stress signaling and activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR), indicative of perturbation of proteostasis. Specifically, combination treatment caused elevated expression of the molecular chaperone HSP90 (heat shock protein 90) along with increased PERK (protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase) and eIF2α phosphorylation and XBP1 (X-box binding protein 1) splicing, key indicators of UPR activation. Moreover, increased splicing of XBP1 was apparent upon combination treatment compared to treatment with either agent alone. Sulforaphane in combination with ATO effectively disrupts protein homeostasis through ROS generation and induction of ER stress to culminate in inhibition of protein secretion and apoptotic induction in MM. Our results suggest that sulforaphane deserves further investigation in combination with ATO in the treatment of MM.

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