Anticancer Effects of Midazolam on Lung and Breast Cancers by Inhibiting Cell Proliferation and Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition

Hsin Ling Lu, King Chuen Wu, Char Wen Chen, Hung Kai Weng, Bu Miin Huang, Ting Yu Lin, Ming Hsin Liu, Edmund Cheung So, Ruey Mo Lin, Yang Kao Wang

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Despite improvements in cancer treatments resulting in higher survival rates, the proliferation and metastasis of tumors still raise new questions in cancer therapy. Therefore, new drugs and strategies are still needed. Midazolam (MDZ) is a common sedative drug acting through the γ-aminobutyric acid receptor in the central nervous system and also binds to the peripheral benzodi-azepine receptor (PBR) in peripheral tissues. Previous studies have shown that MDZ inhibits cancer cell proliferation but increases cancer cell apoptosis through different mechanisms. In this study, we investigated the possible anticancer mechanisms of MDZ on different cancer cell types. MDZ inhibited transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)-induced cancer cell proliferation of both A549 and MCF-7 cells. MDZ also inhibited TGF-β-induced cell migration, invasion, epithelial-mesenchymal-transition, and Smad phosphorylation in both cancer cell lines. Inhibition of PBR by PK11195 rescued the MDZ-inhibited cell proliferation, suggesting that MDZ worked through PBR to inhibit TGF-β pathway. Furthermore, MDZ inhibited proliferation, migration, invasion and levels of mesenchymal proteins in MDA-MD-231 triple-negative breast cancer cells. Together, MDZ inhibits cancer cell proliferation both in epithelial and mesenchymal types and EMT, indicating an important role for MDZ as a candidate to treat lung and breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1396
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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