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Cancer Lett. 2016 Aug 28;379(1):39-48. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2016.05.026. Epub 2016 May 26.

Disulfiram targets cancer stem-like properties and the HER2/Akt signaling pathway in HER2-positive breast cancer.

Author information

1
Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 152-703, Republic of Korea; Brain Korea 21 Program for Biomedicine Science, Korea University College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 152-703, Republic of Korea.
2
Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 152-703, Republic of Korea.
3
Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 152-703, Republic of Korea; Brain Korea 21 Program for Biomedicine Science, Korea University College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 152-703, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: cancer@korea.ac.kr.

Abstract

HER2-positive breast tumors are known to harbor cancer stem-like cell populations and are associated with an aggressive tumor phenotype and poor clinical outcomes. Disulfiram (DSF), an anti-alcoholism drug, is known to elicit cytotoxicity in many cancer cell types in the presence of copper (Cu). The objective of the present study was to investigate the mechanism of action responsible for the induction of apoptosis by DSF/Cu and its effect on cancer stem cell properties in HER2-positive breast cancers in vitro and in vivo. DSF/Cu treatment induced apoptosis, associated with a marked decrease in HER2, truncated p95HER2, phospho-HER2, HER3, phospho-HER3 and phospho-Akt levels, and p27 nuclear accumulation. This was accompanied by the eradication of cancer stem-like populations, concomitant with the suppression of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) activity and mammosphere formation. DSF administration resulted in a significant reduction in tumor growth and an enhancement of apoptosis, as well as HER2 intracellular domain (ICD) and ALDH1A1 downregulation. Our results demonstrate that DSF/Cu induces apoptosis and eliminates cancer stem-like cells via the suppression of HER2/Akt signaling, suggesting that DSF may be potentially effective for the treatment of HER2-positive cancers.

KEYWORDS:

ALDH1A1; Apoptosis; Disulfiram; HER2; Trastuzumab resistance; p95HER2

PMID:
27238567
DOI:
10.1016/j.canlet.2016.05.026
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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