Scientific reports

Reversal of the Apoptotic Resistance of Non-Small-Cell Lung Carcinoma towards TRAIL by Natural Product Toosendanin.

PMID 28209994


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) selectively triggers cancer cell death via its association with death receptors on the cell membrane, but exerts negligible side effects on normal cells. However, some non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) patients exhibited resistance to TRAIL treatment in clinical trials, and the mechanism varies. In this study, we described for the first time that toosendanin (TSN), a triterpenoid derivative used in Chinese medicine for pain management, could significantly sensitize human primary NSCLC cells or NSCLC cell lines to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo, while showing low toxicity against human primary cells or tissues. The underlying apoptotic mechanisms involved upregulation of death receptor 5 (DR5) and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein homologous protein, which is related to the endoplasmic reticulum stress response, and is further associated with reactive oxygen species generation and Ca(2+) accumulation. Surprisingly, TSN also induced autophagy in NSCLC cells, which recruited membrane DR5, and subsequently antagonized the apoptosis-sensitizing effect of TSN. Taken together, TSN can be used to sensitize tumors and the combination of TRAIL and TSN may represent a useful strategy for NSCLC therapy; moreover, autophagy serves as an important drug resistance mechanism for TSN.