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Anticancer Drugs. 2016 Nov;27(10):953-959.

Reactive oxygen species contribute toward Smac mimetic/temozolomide-induced cell death in glioblastoma cells.

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aInstitute for Experimental Cancer Research in Pediatrics, Goethe-University, FrankfurtbGerman Cancer Consortium (DKTK)cGerman Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.


Small-molecule inhibitors of Inhibitor of Apoptosis proteins such as Smac mimetics have been reported to provide a promising tool to sensitize glioblastoma (GBM) cells to cytotoxic therapies including chemotherapeutic drugs. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of action have not yet been fully unraveled. In the present study, we therefore investigated the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the regulation of Smac mimetic/temozolomide (TMZ)-induced cell death in GBM cells. Here, we show that the Smac mimetic BV6 and TMZ act in concert to stimulate the production of both cytosolic and mitochondrial ROS. This accumulation of ROS contributes toward the activation of the proapoptotic factor BAX upon BV6/TMZ cotreatment as several ROS scavengers (i.e. N-acetyl-L-cysteine, MnTBAP, or α-tocopherol) protect GBM cells against BV6/TMZ-mediated BAX activation. In addition, ROS scavengers significantly rescue GBM cells from BV6/TMZ-triggered cell death, indicating that ROS generation is required for the induction of cell death. By showing that ROS play an important role in the regulation of Smac mimetic/TMZ-induced cell death, our work sheds light on the crucial role of the oxidative system in the cooperative antitumor activity of Smac mimetic/TMZ combination therapy against GBM cells.

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