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Cancers 2011, 3(2), 2274-2285; doi:10.3390/cancers3022274
Article

Tetrandrine, a Compound Common in Chinese Traditional Medicine, Preferentially Kills Breast Cancer Tumor Initiating Cells (TICs) In Vitro

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Division of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 January 2011 / Revised: 12 April 2011 / Accepted: 15 April 2011 / Published: 4 May 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Stem Cells)
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Abstract

Tetrandrine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid found in Stephania tetrandra, a Chinese medicine commonly used as an anti-inflammatory. It has extensive pharmacological activity, including positive ion channel blockade and inhibition of multiple drug resistance proteins. These activities are very similar to that of salinomycin, a known drug targeting breast cancer initiation cells (TICs). Herein, we tested tetrandrine targeting of breast cancer TICs. SUM-149, an inflammatory breast cancer cell line and SUM-159, a non-inflammatory metaplastic breast cancer cell line were used in these studies. In proliferation assays using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium (MTS), we found that the IC50 for inhibition of proliferation is 15.3 ± 4.1 µM for SUM-149 and 24.3 ± 2.1 µM for SUM-159 cells. Tetrandrine also inhibited mammosphere formation, a surrogate for breast cancer TICs growth in vitro with IC50 around 1 µM for SUM-149 and around 2 µM for SUM-159 cells. Tetrandrine has similar effects on the mammosphere formation from cells isolated from fresh patient sample. Moreover, tetrandrine decreases the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) positive population in SUM-159 by 45% ± 5.45% P = 0.005. In summary, tetrandrine demonstrates significant efficacy against in vitro surrogates for inflammatory and aggressive breast cancer TICs.
Keywords: breast cancer; tetrandrine; cancer stem cells; tumor-initiating cells breast cancer; tetrandrine; cancer stem cells; tumor-initiating cells
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Xu, W.; Debeb, B.G.; Lacerda, L.; Li, J.; Woodward, W.A. Tetrandrine, a Compound Common in Chinese Traditional Medicine, Preferentially Kills Breast Cancer Tumor Initiating Cells (TICs) In Vitro. Cancers 2011, 3, 2274-2285.

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