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Biochem Pharmacol. 2012 Sep 1;84(5):612-24. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2012.06.005. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

The vascular targeting agent Combretastatin-A4 directly induces autophagy in adenocarcinoma-derived colon cancer cells.

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School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.


Recent clinical data demonstrated that the vascular targeting agent Combretastatin-A4 phosphate (CA-4P) prolonged survival of patients with advanced anaplastic thyroid cancer without any adverse side effects. However, as a single agent CA-4 failed to reduce tumour growth in the murine CT-26 adenocarcinoma colon cancer model. Furthermore, the molecular mechanism of the innate resistance of HT-29 human adenocarcinoma cells to CA-4 is largely unknown. In this report, we demonstrate for the first time that prolonged exposure to CA-4 and an azetidinone cis-restricted analogue, CA-432 (chemical name; 4-(3-Hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)-3-phenyl-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)-azetidin-2-one) induced autophagy in adenocarcinoma-derived CT-26, Caco-2 and HT-29 cells but not in fibrosarcoma-derived HT-1080 cells. Autophagy is a fundamental self-catabolic process which can facilitate a prolonged cell survival in spite of adverse stress by generating energy via lysosomal degradation of cytoplasmic constituents. Autophagy was confirmed by acridine orange staining of vesicle formation, electron microscopy and increased expression of LC3-II. Combretastatin-induced autophagy was associated with a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and elongation of the mitochondria. Furthermore, inhibition of autophagy by the vacuolar H(+)ATPase inhibitor Bafilomycin-A1 (BAF-A1) significantly enhanced CA-432 induced HT-29 cell death. Both CA-4 and its synthetic derivative, CA-432 induced the formation of large hyperdiploid cells in Caco-2 and CT-26 cells. The formation of these polyploid cells was significantly inhibited by autophagy inhibitor, BAF-A1. Results presented within demonstrate that autophagy is a novel response to combretastatin exposure and may be manipulated to enhance the therapeutic efficacy of this class of vascular targeting agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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