Effects of active bufadienolide compounds on human cancer cells and CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells in mitogen-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells
The growth inhibitory effects of bufadienolide compounds were investigated in two intractable cancer cells, a human glioblastoma cell line U-87 and a pancreatic cancer cell line SW1990. Among four bufadienolide compounds, a dose-dependent cytotoxicity was observed in these cancer cells after treatment with gamabufotalin and arenobufagin. The IC 50 values of the two compounds were 3-5 times higher in normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) than these values for both cancer cell lines.
... owever, similar phenomena were not observed for two other bufadienolide compounds, telocinobufagin and bufalin. These results thus suggest that gamabufotalin and arenobufagin possess selective cytotoxic activity against tumor cells rather than normal cells. Moreover, a clear dose-dependent lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release, a well-known hallmark of necrosis, was observed in both cancer cells treated with gamabufotalin, suggesting that gamabufotalin-mediated cell death is predominantly associated with a necrosis-like phenotype. Of most importance, treatment with as little as 8 ng/ml of gamabufotalin, even an almost nontoxic concentration to PBMCs, efficiently downregulated the percentages of CD4 + CD25 + Foxp3 + regulator T (Treg) cells in mitogen-activated PBMCs. Given that Treg cells play a critical role in tumor immunotolerance by suppressing antitumor immunity, these results suggest that gamabufotalin may serve as a promising candidate, as an adjuvant therapeutic agent by manipulating Treg cells to enhance the efficacy of conventional anticancer drugs and lessen their side-effects. These findings provide insights into the clinical application of gamabufotalin for cancer patients with glioblastoma/pancreatic cancer based on its cytocidal effect against tumor cells as well as its depletion of Treg cells.