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Sigma-2 receptor/TMEM97 agonist PB221 as an alternative drug for brain tumor.

BMC cancer (2019-05-22)
Chia-Chi Liu, Ching-Fang Yu, Shu-Chi Wang, Hsueh-Yin Li, Chiu-Min Lin, Hsia-Han Wang, Carmen Abate, Chi-Shiun Chiang

There are limited effective drugs that can reach the brain to target brain tumors, in particular glioblastoma, which is one of the most difficult cancers to be cured from. Because the overexpression of the sigma-2 receptor is frequently reported in glioma clinical samples and associated with poor prognosis and malignancy, we herein studied the anti-tumor effect of the sigma-2 receptor agonist PB221 (4-cyclohexyl-1-[3-(5-methoxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydronaphthalen-1-yl)propyl]piperidine) on an anaplastic astrocytoma tumor model based on previous encouraging results in pancreatic cancer and neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells. The expression of the sigma-2 receptor, transmembrane protein 97 (TMEM97), in ALTS1C1 and UN-KC6141 cell lines was measured by RT-PCR and quantitative RT-PCR. The binding of sigma-2 receptor fluorescent ligands PB385 (6-[5-[3-(4-cyclohexylpiperazin-1-yl)propyl]-5,6,7,8-tetrahydronaphthalen-5-yloxy]-N-(7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl)hexanamine) and NO1 (2-{6-[2-(3-(6,7-dimethoxy-3,4-dihydroisoquinolin-2(1H)-yl)propyl)-3,4-dihydroisoquinolin-1(2H)-one-5-yloxy]hexyl}-5-(dimethylamino)isoindoline-1,3-dione) was examined by flow cytometry and the fluorescent plate reader. The antitumor activity of PB221 was initially examined in the murine brain tumor cell line ALTS1C1 and then in the murine pancreatic cell line UN-KC6141. The potential therapeutic efficacy of PB221 for murine brain tumors was examined by in vitro migration and invasion assays and in vivo ectopic and orthotopic ALTS1C1 tumor models. The IC50 of PB221 for ALTS1C1 and UN-KC6141 cell lines was 10.61 ± 0.96 and 13.13 ± 1.15 μM, respectively. A low dose of PB221 (1 μM) significantly repressed the migration and invasion of ALTS1C1 cells, and a high dose of PB221 (20 μM) resulted in the apoptotic cell death of ALTS1C1 cells. These effects were reduced by the lipid antioxidant α-tocopherol, but not by the hydrophilic N-acetylcysteine, suggesting mitochondrial oxidative stress is involved. The in vivo study revealed that PB221 effectively retarded tumor growth to 36% of the control tumor volume in the ectopic intramuscular tumor model and increased the overall survival time by 20% (from 26 to 31 days) in the orthotopic intracerebral tumor model. This study demonstrates that the sigma-2 receptor agonist PB221 has the potential to be an alternative chemotherapeutic drug for brain tumors with comparable side effects as the current standard-of-care drug, temozolomide.