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Open AccessArticle

Disulfiram/Copper Induces Antitumor Activity against Both Nasopharyngeal Cancer Cells and Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts through ROS/MAPK and Ferroptosis Pathways

1
Department of Microbial and Biochemical Pharmacy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, No. 132 Waihuandong Road, University Town, Guangzhou 510006, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Guangdong Key Laboratory of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Diagnosis and Therapy, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou 510060, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cancers 2020, 12(1), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12010138
Received: 9 December 2019 / Revised: 25 December 2019 / Accepted: 3 January 2020 / Published: 6 January 2020
Disulfiram/copper (DSF/Cu) is a promising antitumor reagent for clinical application due to its excellent anticancer activity and safety. However, the anticancer mechanism of DSF/Cu has not been fully elucidated. Our study showed that DSF/Cu strongly induced cytotoxic effects on both nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA)-positive fibroblasts. Fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis further showed that DSF/Cu induced a higher late apoptosis rate in α-SMA-positive fibroblasts than in tumor cells, and DSF/Cu promoted apoptosis and necrosis by an aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)-independent method. Furthermore, we found that the antitumor activity of DSF/Cu against NPC cells occurred through ROS/MAPK and p53-mediated ferroptosis pathways, and that the ROS scavenger N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) could reverse the cellular and lipid ROS levels. In 5-8F xenografts, both TUNEL and immunohistochemical (IHC) analyses indicated that DSF/Cu could induce apoptosis and inactivate cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) by inhibiting the expression of α-SMA. In addition, combined with cisplatin (CDDP), DSF/Cu was well tolerated in vivo and could significantly suppress the growth of NPC tissues. Our study demonstrated that DSF/Cu induced antitumor activity against both tumor cells, as well as CAFs and suggested that the use of DSF/Cu as an adjunctive therapy for NPC is worthy of consideration. View Full-Text
Keywords: nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC); (disulfiram/copper) DSF/Cu; apoptosis; ferroptosis; cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC); (disulfiram/copper) DSF/Cu; apoptosis; ferroptosis; cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs)
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Li, Y.; Chen, F.; Chen, J.; Chan, S.; He, Y.; Liu, W.; Zhang, G. Disulfiram/Copper Induces Antitumor Activity against Both Nasopharyngeal Cancer Cells and Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts through ROS/MAPK and Ferroptosis Pathways. Cancers 2020, 12, 138.

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