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PloS one

A synthetic triterpenoid CDDO-Im inhibits tumorsphere formation by regulating stem cell signaling pathways in triple-negative breast cancer.


PMID 25229616

Abstract

Triple-negative breast cancer is associated with poor prognosis because of a high rate of tumor recurrence and metastasis. Previous studies demonstrated that the synthetic triterpenoid, CDDO-Imidazolide (CDDO-Im) induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in triple-negative breast cancer. Since a small subpopulation of cancer stem cells has been suggested to be responsible for drug resistance and metastasis of tumors, our present study determined whether the effects of CDDO-Im in triple-negative breast cancer are due to the inhibition of a cancer stem cell subpopulation. CDDO-Im treatment markedly induced cell cycle arrest at G2/M-phase and apoptosis in the triple-negative breast cancer cell lines, SUM159 and MDA-MB-231. Because SUM159 cells were more sensitive to CDDO-Im than MDA-MB-231 cells, the effects of CDDO-Im on the cancer stem cell subpopulation were further investigated in SUM159 cells. SUM159 cells formed tumorspheres in culture, and the cancer stem cell subpopulation, CD24-/EpCAM+ cells, was markedly enriched in SUM159 tumorspheres. The CD24-/EpCAM+ cells in SUM159 tumorspheres were significantly inhibited by CDDO-Im treatment. CDDO-Im also significantly decreased sphere forming efficiency and tumorsphere size in both primary and secondary sphere cultures. PCR array of stem cell signaling genes showed that expression levels of many key molecules in the stem cell signaling pathways, such as Notch, TGF-β/Smad, Hedgehog and Wnt, were significantly down-regulated by CDDO-Im in SUM159 tumorspheres. Protein levels of Notch receptors (c-Notch1, Notch1 and Notch3), TGF-β/Smad (pSmad2/3) and Hedgehog downstream effectors (GLI1) also were markedly reduced by CDDO-Im. In conclusion, the present study demonstrates that the synthetic triterpenoid, CDDO-Im, is a potent anti-cancer agent against triple-negative breast cancer cells by targeting the cancer stem cell subpopulation.