L-Ascorbic acid can abrogate SVCT-2-dependent cetuximab resistance mediated by mutant KRAS in human colon cancer cells.
Free Radic Biol Med. 2016 Mar 22 ;95:200-208. Epub 2016 Mar 22. PMID: 27012422
Colon cancer patients with mutant KRAS are resistant to cetuximab, an antibody directed against the epidermal growth factor receptor, which is an effective clinical therapy for patients with wild-type KRAS. Numerous combinatorial therapies have been tested to overcome the resistance to cetuximab. However, no combinations have been found that can be used as effective therapeutic strategies. In this study, we demonstrate that L-ascorbic acid partners with cetuximab to induce killing effects, which are influenced by sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter 2 (SVCT-2) in human colon cancer cells with a mutant KRAS. L-Ascorbic acid treatment of human colon cancer cells that express a mutant KRAS differentially and synergistically induced cell death with cetuximab in a SVCT-2-dependent manner. The ectopic expression of SVCT-2 induced sensitivity to L-ascorbic acid treatment in human colon cancer cells that do not express SVCT-2, whereas the knockdown of endogenous SVCT-2 induced resistance to L-ascorbic acid treatment in SVCT-2-positive cells. Moreover, tumor regression via the administration of L-ascorbic acid and cetuximab in mice bearing tumor cell xenografts corresponded to SVCT-2 protein levels. Interestingly, cell death induced by the combination of L-ascorbic acid and cetuximab resulted in both apoptotic and necrotic cell death. These cell death mechanisms were related to a disruption of the ERK pathway and were represented by the impaired activation of RAFs and the activation of the ASK-1-p38 pathway. Taken together, these results suggest that resistance to cetuximab in human colon cancer patients with a mutant KRAS can be bypassed by L-ascorbic acid in an SVCT-2-dependent manner. Furthermore, SVCT-2 in mutant KRAS colon cancer may act as a potent marker for potentiating L-ascorbic acid co-treatment with cetuximab.