Toxicology letters

Parthenolide reverses doxorubicin resistance in human lung carcinoma A549 cells by attenuating NF-κB activation and HSP70 up-regulation.

PMID 23792430


Chemotherapy resistance represents a major problem for the treatment of patients with lung carcinomas. Parthenolide (PN), a naturally occurring small molecule found in herb feverfew, has been used in clinical treatment. Although its importance in treating the chemotherapy resistance has been shown, the pharmacological benefits of PN for lung cancer with multidrug resistance are underappreciated. Using human lung epithelial carcinoma A549 and A549 derived DOX-resistant A549/DOX cell lines, we found that PN enhanced the apoptotic cytotoxicity of DOX in A549/DOX cells. PN inhibited P-glycoprotein (P-gp) up-regulation and promoted the intracellular accumulation of DOX in A549/DOX cells. PN also exhibited inhibitory effect on NF-κB activation in A549/DOX cells, suggesting that inhibition of NF-κB was involved in attenuating P-gp expression by PN. Moreover, we found that PN could also effectively inhibit the HSP70 up-regulation in A549/DOX cells. Further studies revealed a positive correlation between HSP70 and P-gp expression. Overexpression of HSP70 upregulated P-gp expression independently of NF-κB activation in A549 cells, and knockdown of HSP70 caused a reduced expression of P-gp in A549/DOX cells. RT-PCR experiments showed that HSP70 modulated the P-gp expression mainly at transcription level. Taken together, PN can reverse DOX resistance through suppressing P-gp expression by mechanisms involving attenuation of NF-κB activation and HSP70 up-regulation. Our results not only provide insight into potential use of PN in reversing P-gp mediated MDR to facilitate lung cancer chemotherapy, but also highlight a potential role of HSP70 in the development of drug resistance.