Berberine reduces temozolomide resistance by inducing autophagy via the ERK1/2 signaling pathway in glioblastoma.
Cancer Cell Int. 2020 Dec 9 ;20(1):592. Epub 2020 Dec 9. PMID: 33298057
BACKGROUND: The ability to treat glioblastoma (GBM) using the chemotherapeutic agent temozolomide (TMZ) has been hampered by the development of therapeutic resistance. In this study, we assessed the ability of the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine to alter GBM TMZ resistance using two different TMZ-resistant cell lines to mimic a physiologically relevant GBM experimental system.
METHODS: By treating these resistant cell lines with berberine followed by TMZ, we were able to assess the chemosensitivity of these cells and their parental strains, based on their performance in the MTT and colony formation assays, as well as on the degree of detectable apoptosis that was detected in the strains. Furthermore, we used Western blotting to assess autophagic responses in these cell lines, and we extended this work into a xenograft mouse model to assess the in vivo efficacy of berberine.
RESULTS: Through these experiments, our findings indicated that berberine enhanced autophagy and apoptosis in TMZ-resistant cells upon TMZ treatment in a manner that was linked with ERK1/2 signaling. Similarly, when used in vivo, berberine increased GBM sensitivity to TMZ through ERK1/2 signaling pathways.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that berberine is an effective method of increasing the sensitization of GBM cells to TMZ treatment in a manner that is dependent upon the ERK1/2-mediated induction of autophagy, thus making berberine a potentially viable therapeutic agent for GBM treatment.