Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Pentoxifylline sensitizes human cervical tumor cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis by suppressing NF-kappa B and decreased cell senescence

Georgina Hernandez-Flores1, Pablo C Ortiz-Lazareno1, Jose Manuel Lerma-Diaz1, Jorge R Dominguez-Rodriguez1, Luis F Jave-Suarez1, Adriana del C Aguilar-Lemarroy1, Ruth de Celis-Carrillo1, Susana del Toro-Arreola2, Yessica C Castellanos-Esparza1 and Alejandro Bravo-Cuellar13*

Author Affiliations

1 División de Inmunología, Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Occidente, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Guadalajara, Jalisco. México

2 Laboratorio de Inmunología. Centro Universitario de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Guadalajara, Jalisco. México

3 Centro Universitario de los Altos, Universidad de Guadalajara, Tepatitlán de Morelos, Jalisco. México

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:483  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-483

Published: 10 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common causes of cancer in women and represents an important mortality rate. Cisplatin (CIS) is a very important antitumoral agent and can lead tumor cells toward two important cellular states: apoptosis and senescence. In some types of cancers pentoxifylline (PTX) sensitizes these cells to the toxic action of chemotherapeutics drugs such as adriamycin, inducing apoptosis. In the present work, we studied in vitro whether PTX alone or in combination with CIS induces apoptosis and/or senescence in cervix cancer HeLa and SiHa cell lines infected with HPV types 16 and 18, respectively, as well as in immortalized keratinocytyes HaCaT cells.

Methods

HeLa (HPV 18+), SiHa (HPV 16+) cervix cancer cells and non-tumorigenic immortalized HaCaT cells (control) were treated with PTX, CIS or both. The cellular toxicity and survival fraction of PTX and CIS were determinate by WST-1 and clonogenic assays respectively. Apoptosis, caspase activation and phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38, p65 (NF-κB), Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL anti-apoptotic proteins were determinated by flow cytometry. Senescence by microscopy. Phosphorylation of IκBα and IκB total were measured by ELISA. Pro-apoptotic, anti-apoptotic and senescence genes, as well as HPV-E6/7 mRNA expression, were detected by RT-PCR.

Results

Our results show that after 24 hours of incubation PTX per se is toxic for cancer cells affecting cell viability and inducing apoptosis. The toxicity in HaCaT cells was minimal. CIS induces apoptosis in HeLa and SiHa cells and its effect was significantly increases when the cells were treated with PTX + CIS. In all studies there was a direct correlation with levels of caspases (-3, -6, -7, -9 and -8) activity and apoptosis. CIS induces important levels of senescence and phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38, p65/RELA, and IκBα, and decreased the expression of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-XL. Surprisingly these levels were significantly reduced by PTX in tumor cells, and at the same time, increases the expression of pro-apoptotic genes.

Conclusion

PTX sensitizes cervical cancer cells to CIS-induced apoptosis and decreases the CIS-induced senescence in these cells via inhibition of NF-κB signaling pathway; diminishes expression of antiapoptotic proteins and the activation of caspases.