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Dev Reprod. 2018 Jun;22(2):133-142. doi: 10.12717/DR.2018.22.2.133. Epub 2018 Jun 30.

Combination of BEZ235 and Metformin Has Synergistic Effect on Cell Viability in Colorectal Cancer Cells.

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Dept. of Medicine, Jeju National University School of Medicine, Jeju 63243, Korea.
Dept. of Histology, Jeju National University School of Medicine, Jeju 63243, Korea.


Patients with type II diabetes mellitus are more susceptible to colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence than non-diabetics. The anti-diabetic drug metformin is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of this disease and has recently shown antitumor effect in preclinical studies. The aberrant mutational activation in the components of RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway is very frequently observed in CRC. We previously reported that metformin inhibits the phosphorylation of ERK and BEZ235, a dual inhibitor of PI3K and mTOR, has anti-tumor activity against HCT15 CRC cells harboring mutations of KRAS and PIK3CA. Therefore, we hypothesized that simultaneous inhibition of two pathways by combining metformin with BEZ235 could be more effective in the suppression of proliferation than single agent treatment in HCT15 CRC cells. Here, we investigated the combinatory effect of metformin and BEZ235 on the cell survival in HCT15 CRC cells. Our study shows that both of the two signaling pathways can be blocked by this combinational strategy: metformin suppressed both pathways by inhibiting the phosphorylation of ERK, 4E-BP1 and S6, and BEZ235 suppressed PI3K/AKT/ mTOR pathway by reducing the phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 and S6. This combination treatment synergistically reduced cell viability. The combination index (CI) values ranged from 0.44 to 0.88, indicating synergism for the combination. These results offer a preclinical rationale for the potential therapeutic option for the treatment of CRC.


BEZ235; Cell viability; HCT15 colorectal cancer cell; Metformin

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