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Radiat Oncol. 2006 Mar 29;1:6.

The membrane targeted apoptosis modulators erucylphosphocholine and erucylphosphohomocholine increase the radiation response of human glioblastoma cell lines in vitro.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Tuebingen, Germany.



Alkylphosphocholines constitute a novel class of antineoplastic synthetic phospholipid derivatives that induce apoptosis of human tumor cell lines by targeting cellular membranes. We could recently show that the first intravenously applicable alkylphosphocholine erucylphosphocholine (ErPC) is a potent inducer of apoptosis in highly resistant human astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines in vitro. ErPC was shown to cross the blood brain barrier upon repeated intravenous injections in rats and thus constitutes a promising candidate for glioblastoma therapy. Aim of the present study was to analyze putative beneficial effects of ErPC and its clinically more advanced derivative erucylphosphohomocholine (erucyl-N, N, N-trimethylpropanolaminphosphate, ErPC3, Erufosinetrade mark on radiation-induced apoptosis and eradication of clonogenic tumor cells in human astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines in vitro.


While all cell lines showed high intrinsic resistance against radiation-induced apoptosis as determined by fluorescence microscopy, treatment with ErPC and ErPC3 strongly increased sensitivity of the cells to radiation-induced cell death (apoptosis and necrosis). T98G cells were most responsive to the combined treatment revealing highly synergistic effects while A172 showed mostly additive to synergistic effects, and U87MG cells sub-additive, additive or synergistic effects, depending on the respective radiation-dose, drug-concentration and treatment time. Combined treatment enhanced therapy-induced damage of the mitochondria and caspase-activation. Importantly, combined treatment also increased radiation-induced eradication of clonogenic T98G cells as determined by standard colony formation assays.


Our observations make the combined treatment with ionizing radiation and the membrane targeted apoptosis modulators ErPC and ErPC3 a promising approach for the treatment of patients suffering from malignant glioma. The use of this innovative treatment concept in an in vivo xenograft setting is under current investigation.

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