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Toxicol In Vitro. 2011 Dec;25(8):1568-74. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2011.05.023. Epub 2011 May 27.

In vitro screening of synergistic ascorbate-drug combinations for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma.

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Department of Environment and Life Sciences, DiSAV, University of Piemonte Orientale Amedeo Avogadro, Viale T. Michel 11, 15121 Alessandria, Italy.


Malignant mesothelioma (MMe) is a lethal tumor arising from the mesothelium of serous cavities as a result of exposure to asbestos. Current clinical standards consist of combined treatments, but an effective therapy has not been established yet and there is an urgent need for new curative approaches. Ascorbate is a nutrient that is also known as a remedy in the treatment of cancer. In the present study, we have tested the cytotoxicity of ascorbate to MMe cells in combination with drugs used in MMe therapy, such as cisplatin, etoposide, gemcitabine, imatinib, paclitaxel, and raltitrexed, as well as with promising antitumor compounds like taurolidine, α-tocopherol succinate, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Dose-response curves obtained for each compound by applying the neutral red uptake (NRU) assay to MMe cells growing in vitro, allowed to obtain IC50 values for each compound used singularly. Thereafter, NRU data obtained from each ascorbate/drug combination were analyzed through Tallarida's isobolograms at the IC50 level (Tallarida, 2000), revealing synergistic interactions for ascorbate/gemcitabine and ascorbate/EGCG. These results were further confirmed through comparisons between theoretical additivity IC50 and observed IC50 from fixed-ratio dose-response curves, and over a broad range of IC levels, by using Chou and Talalay's combination index (Chou and Talalay, 1984). Synergistic interactions were also shown by examining apoptosis and necrosis rates, using the caspase 3 and lactic dehydrogenase assays, respectively. Hence, data indicate that ascorbate/gemcitabine and ascorbate/EGCG affect synergistically the viability of MMe cells and suggest their possible use in the clinical treatment of this problematic cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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