Malignant gliomas are resistant to many kinds of treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other adjuvant therapies. Autophagy is a novel response of cancer cells to ionizing radiation (IR) or chemotherapy, but its significance and underlying mechanism remains largely elusive. Induction of autophagy in glioma cells using irradiation and arsenic trioxide (ATO) has been reported separately. However, the combined effects of ATO and IR on the cell death processes of malignant glioma cells have not been thoroughly studied, especially in U118-MG cells. In the present study, we investigated the anticancer effect of IR combined with ATO and the underlying mechanisms on U118-MG human malignant glioma cells in vitro. We found that the enhanced cytotoxic effect of IR combined with ATO was through induction of more autophagy in U118-MG cells, which were characterized by the presence of acidic vascular organelle formation, determined by electron microscopic observation and immunoblotting of LC3. Combined treatment could induce more mitotic arrest compared to ATO or IR alone. In addition, we also found that the combined treatment-induced autophagy occurred through inhibition of PI3K/Akt and activation of ERK1/2 signaling pathways. These findings suggest a potential therapeutic strategy for malignant gliomas, which are resistant to various proapoptotic therapies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology