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J Appl Toxicol. 2014 Oct;34(10):1109-13. doi: 10.1002/jat.2946. Epub 2013 Oct 24.

Borrelidin has limited anti-cancer effects in bcl-2 overexpressing breast cancer and leukemia cells and reveals toxicity in non-malignant breast epithelial cells.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Maistrasse 11, 80337, München, Germany.


Clinically effective anti-cancer drugs have to tread a narrow line between selective cytotoxicity on tumor cells and tolerable adverse effects against healthy tissues. This causes the failure of many potential cancer drugs in advanced clinical trials, hence signifying the importance of a comprehensive initial estimate of the cytotoxicity of prospective anti-cancer drugs in preclinical studies. In this study, the cytotoxicity of borrelidin, a macrolide antibiotic with a high cytotoxic selectivity for proliferating endothelial cells and leukemia cells, was tested on malignant and non-malignant breast cells. Highly metastatic breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-435) showed promising results and exhibited good sensitivity to borrelidin at low nanomolar concentrations, but borrelidin was cytotoxic to a non-malignant breast epithelial cell line (MCF10A) as well. Furthermore, although a high sensitivity of endothelial cells (human umbilical vein endothelial cells; HUVEC) and individual leukemia cell lines (Jurkat and IM9) to borrelidin was confirmed in this study, another leukemia cell line (HL60) and an immortalized endothelial cell line (EA.hy926) displayed a significantly decreased sensitivity. Reduced sensitivity to borrelidin was associated with elevated bcl-2 expression in these cell lines. In conclusion, the results presented show that borrelidin displays high and selective cytotoxicity against subgroups of cancer cells and endothelial cells, but, owing to its non-specific toxicity to non-malignant cells, its clinical application might be restricted because of likely adverse effects and limited efficacy in bcl2-overexpressing cancer cells.


bcl-2; borrelidin; breast cancer; leukemia; neoangiogenesis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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