Vorinostat and metformin sensitize EGFR-TKI resistant NSCLC cells via BIM-dependent apoptosis induction.

PMID 29212192


There is a close relationship between low expression of BIM and resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR-TKI). Vorinostat is a pan-histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) that augments BIM expression in various types of tumor cells, however, this effect is attenuated by the high expression of anti-apoptotic proteins in EGFR-TKI resistant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Vorinostat in combination with metformin - a compound that can inhibit anti-apoptotic proteins expression, might cooperate to activate apoptotic signaling and overcome EGFR-TKI resistance. This study aimed to investigate the cooperative effect and evaluate possible molecular mechanisms. The results showed that vorinostat combined with gefitinib augmented BIM expression and increased the sensitivity of EGFR-TKI resistant NSCLC cells to gefitinib, adding metformin simultaneously could obviously inhibit the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins, and further increased expression levels of BIM and BAX, and as a result, further improved the sensitivity of gefitinib both on the NSCLC cells with intrinsic and acquired resistance to EGFR-TKI. In addition, autophagy induced by gefitinib and vorinostat could be significantly suppressed by metformin, which might also contribute to enhance apoptosis and improve sensitivity of gefitinib. These results suggested that the combination of vorinostat and metformin might represent a novel strategy to overcome EGFR-TKI resistance associated with BIM-dependent apoptosis in larger heterogeneous populations.