In vitro investigation of the effect of disulfiram on hypoxia induced NFκB, epithelial to mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cells in glioblastoma cell lines
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AbstractGlioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive and lethal cancers with a poor prognosis. Advances in the treatment of GBM are limited due to several resistance mechanisms and limited drug delivery into the central nervous system (CNS) compartment by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and by actions of the normal brain to counteract tumour-targeting medications. Hypoxia is common in malignant brain tumours such as GBM and plays a significant role in tumour pathobiology. It is widely accepted that hypoxia is a major driver of GBM malignancy. Although it has been confirmed that hypoxia induces GBM stem-like-cells (GSCs), which are highly invasive and resistant to all chemotherapeutic agents, the detailed molecular pathways linking hypoxia, GSC traits and chemoresistance remain obscure. Evidence shows that hypoxia induces cancer stem cell phenotypes via epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), promoting therapeutic resistance in most cancers, including GBM. This study demonstrated that spheroid cultured GBM cells consist of a large population of hypoxic cells with CSC and EMT characteristics. GSCs are chemo-resistant and displayed increased levels of HIFs and NFκB activity. Similarly, the hypoxia cultured GBM cells manifested GSC traits, chemoresistance and invasiveness. These results suggest that hypoxia is responsible for GBM stemness, chemoresistance and invasiveness. GBM cells transfected with nuclear factor kappa B-p65 (NFκB-p65) subunit exhibited CSC and EMT markers indicating the essential role of NFκB in maintaining GSC phenotypes. The study also highlighted the significance of NFκB in driving chemoresistance, invasiveness, and the potential role of NFκB as the central regulator of hypoxia-induced stemness in GBM cells. GSC population has the ability of self-renewal, cancer initiation and development of secondary heterogeneous cancer. The very poor prognosis of GBM could largely be attributed to the existence of GSCs, which promote tumour propagation, maintenance, radio- and chemoresistance and local infiltration. In this study, we used Disulfiram (DS), a drug used for more than 65 years in alcoholism clinics, in combination with copper (Cu) to target the NFκB pathway, reverse chemoresistance and block invasion in GSCs. The obtained results showed that DS/Cu is highly cytotoxic to GBM cells and completely eradicated the resistant CSC population at low dose levels in vitro. DS/Cu inhibited the migration and invasion of hypoxia-induced CSC and EMT like GBM cells at low nanomolar concentrations. DS is an FDA approved drug with low toxicity to normal tissues and can pass through the BBB. Further research may lead to the quick translation of DS into cancer clinics and provide new therapeutic options to improve treatment outcomes in GBM patients.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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