β-Elemene Enhances the Chemotherapeutic Effect of 5-Fluorouracil in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer via PI3K/AKT, RAF-MEK-ErK, and NF-κB Signaling Pathways.
Onco Targets Ther. 2020 ;13:5207-5222. Epub 2020 Jun 9. PMID: 32606741
Background: The most common chemotherapeutic drug for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) treatment is 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), but its therapeutic index is low due to its toxicity.β-Elemene (ELE) possesses antitumor activity against different cancers, but it has never been used in combination with 5-FU to improve its chemotherapeutic effect against TNBC.
Materials and Methods: We treated MDA-MB-231 and BT549 cells of TNBC with ELE alone, 5-FU alone, or their combination to investigate their treatment effects on cell viability, proliferation, migration, invasion, and colony formation. We verified the molecular mechanisms of our results through confocal immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot analysis in vitro and in vivo.
Results: Our result revealed that ELE enhanced the 5-FU effect against cell viability, proliferation, migration, invasion, and colony formation through different mechanisms in MDA-MB-231 and BT549 cell lines. In molecular mechanisms, ELE and 5-FU in combination enhances apoptosis in both cell lines through Bl-2 family protein and caspase cascade modulation, thereby inhibiting NF-kB pathway through IKKβ, IKKα, and p65 downregulation in the cytoplasm and p50 and p65 downregulation in the nucleus. ELE and 5-FU in combination regulated the PI3K/AKT pathway through p-AKT, P-85, p110r, p-PDK1, and p110a protein and RAF-MEK-ERK pathway inhibition through the p-c-raf and p-ERK downregulation. The PI3Kinhibitor LY294002 or RAF-MEK-ERK inhibitor U0126 in combination with ELE and 5-FU decreased cell viability in both cell lines significantly, thereby showing the involvement of these pathways in cell apoptosis. In mouse xenograft model, ELE and 5-FU in combination inhibited the tumor growth and modulated its molecular markers.
Conclusion: The conclusion obtained, considering that the results suggest that the combination may be important specifically in the treatment of TNBC.