British journal of cancer

Isothiocyanate NB7M causes selective cytotoxicity, pro-apoptotic signalling and cell-cycle regression in ovarian cancer cells.

PMID 19002174


The present report identifies indole-3-ethyl isothiocyanate NB7M as a potent cytotoxic agent with selective activity against cell lines derived from various tumour types. Ovarian cancer cell lines showed sensitivity to NB7M (60-70% cytotoxicity at 2.5 microM), in contrast to control cells (TCL-1 and HTR-8; IC(50) approximately 15 microM). In a screen performed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) (NCI(60) cancer cell-line assay) NB7M (NSC746077) reduced growth up to 100% with an IC(50) between 0.1 and 10 microM depending on the cell line studied. Using SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells as a model, mechanisms of cytotoxicity were analysed. NB7M caused hallmarks of apoptosis such as PARP-1 deactivation, chromatin condensation, DNA nicks, activation of caspases-9, -8, -3, loss of mitochondrial transmembrane depolarisation potential and upregulation of pro-apoptotic mitogen activated protein kinases (p38, SAP/JNK). NB7M downregulated phosphorylation of prosurvival kinases (PI-3K, AKT, IKK alpha), transcription factor NF-kappaB, and expression of DNA-Pk and AXL receptor tyrosine kinase. Subcytotoxic doses of NB7M inhibited DNA synthesis, caused G1-phase cell-cycle arrest and upregulated p27 expression. The present report suggests that NB7M is a selective cytotoxic agent in vitro for cell lines derived from ovarian and certain other tumours. In addition, NB7M acts as a growth/cell-cycle-suppressing agent and may be developed as a potential therapeutic drug to treat ovarian cancer.