Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine

Verapamil augments carmustine- and irradiation-induced senescence in glioma cells by reducing intracellular reactive oxygen species and calcium ion levels.

PMID 28459217


Resistance to conventional therapies and frequent recurrence are the major obstacles to the treatment of high-grade gliomas, including glioblastoma. Thus, the development of new therapeutic strategies to overcome these obstacles is necessary to improve the treatment outcomes. In this study, we found that verapamil, a pan-adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporter and L-type voltage-dependent calcium channel inhibitor, sensitized U87MG glioma cells to carmustine- and irradiation-induced senescence. Furthermore, our results indicated that verapamil treatment, in combination with carmustine and irradiation, rendered U87MG glioma cells and several patient-derived glioma stem cells more sensitive to therapy-induced senescence than individual or dual-combination treatments. When investigating the underlying mechanism, we found that verapamil treatment markedly decreased intracellular reactive oxygen species and calcium ion levels. Reactive oxygen species reduction with N-acetylcysteine, a reactive oxygen species scavenger, rendered U87MG glioma cells more sensitive to carmustine and irradiation whereas the protein kinase C agonist, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, mitigated the effects of carmustine and irradiation. Taken together, our results indicate that verapamil may be a potent therapeutic sensitizer for increasing the effectiveness of glioblastoma treatment.