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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 10;6(2):e16966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016966.

Reactive oxygen species is essential for cycloheximide to sensitize lexatumumab-induced apoptosis in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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Department of Pathology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.


This study aims to investigate apoptosis induced by lexatumumab (Lexa) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. We assessed the sensitivity of HCC cell lines and normal human hepatocytes to Lexa and explored the sensitization of HCC cells to Lexa-induced apoptosis by cycloheximide (CHX). Our data indicated that CHX sensitized HCC cell lines to Lexa-induced apoptosis, whereas treatment using solely CHX or Lexa was ineffective. The sequential treatment of CHX followed by Lexa dramatically induced caspase-dependent apoptosis in HCC cells and had synergistically increased intracellular rates of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Additionally, when ROS production was blocked by N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), HCC cells were protected against Lexa and CHX combination treatment-induced apoptosis. ROS generation induced by combination treatment of Lexa and CHX triggered pro-apoptotic protein Bax oligomerization, conformation change, and translocation to mitochondria, which resulted in the release of cytochrome c and subsequent cell death. Furthermore, HSP90 was involved in mediating Lexa and CHX combination treatment-induced ROS increase and apoptotic death. More importantly, we observed that combination treatment of Lexa and CHX did not cause apoptotic toxicity in normal human primary hepatocytes. These results suggest that Lexa and CHX combination treatment merits investigation for the development of therapies for patients with HCC.

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