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Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2008 Aug;21(4):451-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2008.00481.x.

The antidepressant sertraline downregulates Akt and has activity against melanoma cells.

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Department of Dermatology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Melanoma is a common malignancy which is poorly responsive to chemotherapy and radiation. One of the major reasons melanoma responds poorly to these modalities is constitutive expression of Akt, which protects against apoptosis. The antidepressant sertraline was found to be a potent cytotoxic agent against A375 human melanoma. To determine the mechanism by which sertraline kills melanoma cells, Western blot analysis of signaling molecules, including phosphorylated Akt, caspase 9 and phospho-p70 S6 kinase was performed. Finally, the effects of sertraline on A375 xenografts in mice were assessed. Sertaline potently inhibited the phosphorylation of Akt, and caused cell death through induction of endoplasmic reticulum in vitro. Sertraline monotherapy demonstrated activity against A375 xenografts in vivo. Akt is a major cause of resistance of melanoma to current therapy. Antidepressants are commonly used to prevent interferon-induced depression. Use of antidepressants that decrease Akt may improve the efficacy of interferon and other therapies against melanoma. Further studies are needed to elucidate whether sertraline acts as an Akt inhibitor in melanoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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