Synergistic activity of sorafenib and betulinic acid against clonogenic activity of non-small cell lung cancer cells.
Cancer Sci. 2017 Nov ;108(11):2265-2272. Epub 2017 Sep 19. PMID: 28846180
The highly selective multi-targeted agent sorafenib is an inhibitor of a number of intracellular signaling kinases with anti-proliferative, anti-angiogenic and pro-apoptotic effects in various types of tumors, including human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Betulin displays a broad spectrum of biological and pharmacological properties, including anticancer and chemopreventive activity. Combination of drugs with different targets is a logical approach to overcome multilevel cross-stimulation among key signaling pathways in NSCLC progression. NSCLC cell lines, A549, H358 and A427, with different KRAS mutations, and normal human peripheral blood lymphocyte cells, were treated with sorafenib and betulinic acid alone and in combination. We examined the effect of different combined treatments on viability (MTS test), proliferation and apoptotic susceptibility based on flow cytometry, alterations in signaling pathways by western blotting and colony-forming ability. The combination of sorafenib with betulinic acid had a strong effect on the induction of apoptosis of different NSCLC cell lines. In addition, this combination was not toxic for human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Combination treatment changed the expression of proteins involved in the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway and induced apoptotic death by caspase activation. Importantly, combination treatment with low drug concentrations tremendously reduced the colony-forming ability of A549, H358 and A427 cells, as compared to both compounds alone. In this study, we showed that combination therapy with low concentrations of sorafenib and betulinic acid had the capacity to induce high levels of cell death and abolish clonogenic activity in some NSCLC cell lines regardless of KRAS mutations.