Although the development of a therapeutic strategy for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive type of brain tumor in adults, is in progress, the prognosis is still limited. In this study, we evaluated the anti-glioma effects of darapladib, a selective reversible inhibitor of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) that is encoded by the PLA2G7 gene and serves as a predictive biomarker of sub-clinical inflammation in cardiovascular diseases. The three glioma cell lines (rat C6 glioma cell line, human U87MG, and human U251MG) and an ex vivo brain tissue slice-glioma cell co-culture system were used to validate the inhibitory effect of darapladib on the expansion of glioma cells. Exposure to darapladib at doses higher than 5 μM induced profound cytotoxicity in C6, U87MG, and U251MG. Moreover, the colony formation ability of the glioma cell lines was significantly repressed after the addition of darapladib. Although darapladib did not reduce the generation of the Lp-PLA2 downstream molecule, arachidonic acid (AA), in the glioma cells, this small compound triggered mitochondrial membrane depolarization and cell apoptosis in these glioma cells. In addition, transient exposure to darapladib induced the upregulation of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) levels, but reduced phosphorylation of AKT/PKB (protein kinase B). The results from an ex vivo brain slice culture system further confirmed the effective inhibition of darapladib on the expansion of glioma cells. In conclusion, darapladib acts as a potential anti-glioma compound via the induction of mitochondrial membrane depolarization and cell apoptosis, and the inhibition of AKT signaling in glioma cells.
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