Combination treatment of berberine and solid lipid curcumin particles increased cell death and inhibited PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway of human cultured glioblastoma cells more effectively than did individual treatments.
PLoS One. 2019 ;14(12):e0225660. Epub 2019 Dec 16. PMID: 31841506
The treatment of glioblastoma is challenging for the clinician, due to its chemotherapeutic resistance. Recent findings suggest that targeting glioblastoma using anti-cancer natural polyphenols is a promising strategy. In this context, curcumin and berberine have been shown to have potent anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects against several malignancies. Due to the poor solubility and limited bioavailability, these compounds have limited efficacy for treating cancer. However, use of a formulation of curcumin with higher bioavailability or combining it with berberine as a co-treatment may be proving to be more efficacious against cancer. Recently, we demonstrated that solid lipid curcumin particles (SLCPs) provided more bioavailability and anti-cancer effects in cultured glioblastoma cells than did natural curcumin. Interestingly, a combination of curcumin and berberine has proven to be more effective in inhibiting growth and proliferation of cancer in the liver, breast, lung, bone and blood. However, the effect of combining these drugs for treating glioblastoma, especially with respect to its effect on activating the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways has not been studied. Therefore, we decided to assess the co-treatment effects of these drugs on two different glioblastoma cell lines (U-87MG and U-251MG) and neuroblastoma cell lines (SH-SY5Y) derived from human tissue. In this study, we compared single and combination (1:5) treatment of SLCP (20μM) and berberine (100 μM) on measures of cell viability, cell death markers, levels of c-Myc and p53, along with biomarkers of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways after 24-48 h of incubation. We found that co-treatment of SLCP and berberine produced more glioblastoma cell death, more DNA fragmentation, and significantly decreased ATP levels and reduced mitochondrial membrane potential than did single treatments in both glioblastoma cells lines. In addition, we observed that co-treatment inhibited the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway more efficiently than their single treatments. Our study suggests that combination treatments of SLCP and berberine may be a promising strategy to reduce or prevent glioblastoma growth in comparison to individual treatments using either compound.