Molecular cancer therapeutics

Selective release of a cyclopamine glucuronide prodrug toward stem-like cancer cell inhibition in glioblastoma.

PMID 25053823


Recent data suggest that inhibition of the Hedgehog pathway could be a therapeutic target for glioblastoma. Alkaloid cyclopamine inhibits Hedgehog signaling, depleting stem-like cancer cells derived from glioblastoma. However, this compound is toxic for somatic stem cells, preventing its use for clinical applications. In this study, we tested a derivatization product of cyclopamine in the form of cyclopamine glucuronide prodrug (CGP-2). This compound was used in vitro and in vivo toward glioblastoma-initiating cells (GIC). Results obtained in vitro indicate that CGP-2 is active only in the presence of β-glucuronidase, an enzyme detected in high levels in necrotic areas of glioblastomas. CGP-2 decreased proliferation and inhibited the self-renewal of all GIC lines tested. Hedgehog pathway blockade by 10 μmol/L of CGP-2 induced a 99% inhibition of clonogenicity on GICs, similar to cyclopamine treatment. Combination of CGP-2 with radiation decreased clonogenic survival in all GIC lines compared with CGP-2 alone. In a subcutaneous glioblastoma xenograft model, a two-week CGP-2 treatment prevented tumor growth with 75% inhibition at 8 weeks, and this inhibition was still significant after 14 weeks. Unlike cyclopamine, CGP-2 had no detectable toxic effects in intestinal crypts. Our study suggests that inhibition of the Hedgehog pathway with CGP-2 is more effective than conventional temozolomide adjuvant, with much lower concentrations, and seems to be an effective therapeutic strategy for targeting GICs.