The percentage of patients with thyroid cancer incidentally diagnosed during a (18) F-fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography with computed tomography (CT) (FDG-PET/CT) for nonthyroid diseases ranges between 26% and 50%.
Malignant glioblastoma represents a challenge in the chemotherapy of brain tumors, because of its aggressive behavior characterized by chemoresistance, infiltrative diffusion, and high rate of recurrence and death. In this study, we used cultured human U87MG cells and primary human glioblastoma cultures to test the anticancer properties of resveratrol (RV), a phytoalexin abundantly present in a variety of dietary products. In U87MG cells, 100 μM RV elicited cell growth arrest by 48 h and bax-mediated cell toxicity by 96 h and greatly limited cell migration and invasion through matrigel. Both in U87MG cells and in primary glioblastoma cultures, the chronic administration of RV (100 μM for up to 96 h) decreased the expression of nestin (a brain (cancer) stem cells marker) but increased that of glial acidic fibrillary protein (a mature glial cell marker) and of βIII-tubulin (a neuronal differentiation marker). Chronic treatment with RV increased the proportion of cells positive for senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity. This is the first report showing the ability of RV to induce glial-like and neuronal-like differentiation in glioblastoma cells. The beneficial effects of chronic RV supplementation lasted up to 96 h after its withdrawal from the culture medium. The present findings support the introduction of pulsed administration of this food-derived molecule in the chemotherapy regimen of astrocytomas.
The lysosomal aspartic protease Cathepsin D (CD) is ubiquitously expressed in eukaryotic organisms. CD activity is essential to accomplish the acid-dependent extensive or partial proteolysis of protein substrates within endosomal and lysosomal compartments therein delivered via endocytosis, phagocytosis or autophagocytosis. CD may also act at physiological pH on small-size substrates in the cytosol and in the extracellular milieu. Mouse and fruit fly CD knock-out models have highlighted the multi-pathophysiological roles of CD in tissue homeostasis and organ development. Here we report the first phenotypic description of the lack of CD expression during zebrafish (Danio rerio) development obtained by morpholino-mediated knock-down of CD mRNA. Since the un-fertilized eggs were shown to be supplied with maternal CD mRNA, only a morpholino targeting a sequence containing the starting ATG codon was effective. The main phenotypic alterations produced by CD knock-down in zebrafish were: 1. abnormal development of the eye and of retinal pigment epithelium; 2. absence of the swim-bladder; 3. skin hyper-pigmentation; 4. reduced growth and premature death. Rescue experiments confirmed the involvement of CD in the developmental processes leading to these phenotypic alterations. Our findings add to the list of CD functions in organ development and patho-physiology in vertebrates.
Hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) is an extremely reactive oxidoradical that is normally produced as a by-product of the mitochondrial activity and also under several metabolic stress conditions. Autophagy, a lysosomal degradation pathway, is triggered by oxidative stress as a defensive response. How autophagy and death pathways are coordinated in cells subjected to oxidative stress is still poorly understood. In human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, 200microM H(2)O(2) rapidly induced the formation of LC3-positive autophagic vacuoles and of beclin1-Vps34 double-positive macroaggregates. Vacuolar LC3 and beclin1 aggregates did not form when oxidative stress was performed in cells pretreated with 3-methyladenine (3MA), an inhibitor of Vps34, or infected with a recombinant adenovirus expressing a dominant-negative mutant of Vps34. H(2)O(2) provoked the permeabilization of lysosomes (at 30 min) and of mitochondria, the concomitant oligomerization of bax, and eventually (at 2 h), cell death in about 50% of the cell culture. Inactivation of Vps34-dependent autophagy in oxidative-stressed cells abrogated lysosome leakage, bax activation, and caspase-dependent apoptosis and conferred protection for as long as 16 h. Inhibition of caspase activity (by ZVAD-fmk) did not trigger an alternative cell death pathway but rather afforded complete protection from oxidative toxicity, despite the ongoing generation of oxidoradicals and the cellular accumulation of autophagic vacuoles and of leaking lysosomes. On long-term (16 h) exposure to H(2)O(2), signs of necrotic cell death became apparent in LC3-positive cells, which could be prevented by ZVAD-fmk. The present data highlight the pivotal role of autophagy in H(2)O(2)-induced cell death in dopaminergic neuroblastoma cells.
The expression of beclin-1, an oncosuppressor monoallelically deleted in >60% epithelial cancers, has been shown to be developmentally regulated in T and B lymphocytes. By interacting with either bcl-2 or class III phosphatidyl-inositol-3-phosphate kinase, beclin-1 regulates apoptosis and autophagy, two processes crucial for lymphatic tissue homeostasis. We analyzed the potential link between beclin-1-mediated autophagy and the malignant behaviour of lymphomas. The tissue expression of beclin-1 was analyzed in a large series of non-Hodgkin lymphomas and correlated with patient's clinical outcome. By immunofluorescence, beclin-1 staining showed faintly detectable and diffusely distributed in the cytoplasm (regarded as negative) or confined to the perinuclear region as large and brilliant puncta suggestive of macro-aggregate reactivity (regarded as positive). The positive expression of beclin-1 well correlated with the presence of LC3-positive autophagic vacuoles and was inversely correlated with the expression of bcl-2. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas in which > or =20% of tumour cells expressed high level of beclin-1 aggregates were associated with a complete (57%) or partial (35%) remission. The 5-year overall survival probability, calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method, was 92% and 42% in beclin-1-expressing non-Hodgkin lymphomas with > or =20% and <20% positive cells, respectively (log-rank test, P<0.000.1). In Cox multivariate analysis, the level of beclin-1 expression, adjusted for patient's age and pathologic stage, revealed to be significantly correlated with patient's survival (P<0.0001). This is the first demonstration of the involvement of beclin-1 and autophagy in the clinical behaviour of non-Hodgkin lymphomas. The present data are compatible with the hypothesis that non-Hodgkin lymphomas with upregulated autophagy are more responsive to chemotherapy and indicate that beclin-1 could be a valuable independent prognostic factor in this heterogeneous group of tumours.
Arsenic trioxide (arsenite) was the first chemotherapeutic drug to be described and is now being rediscovered in cancer treatment, including glioblastoma multiforme. Arsenite toxicity triggers autophagy in cancer cells, although final stages of the process involve executive caspases, suggesting an interplay between autophagic and apoptotic pathways that awaits to be explained at a molecular level. We evaluated the contribution of the lysosomal cathepsins (Cat) L and B, which are upregulated in glioblastomas, in the mechanism of arsenite toxicity in human glioblastoma cells. Arsenite treatment induced autophagosome formation and permeabilization of mitochondria, followed by caspase 3/7-mediated apoptosis. The autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine protected from arsenite toxicity, whereas bafilomycin A1 did not. Furthermore, arsenite significantly decreased CatB levels and selectively inhibited its cellular and recombinant protein activity, while not affecting CatL. However, downregulation of CatL greatly enhanced apoptosis by arsenite. Our results show that arsenite toxicity involves a complex interplay between autophagy and apoptosis in human glioblastoma cells and is associated with inhibition of CatB, and that this toxicity is highly exacerbated by simultaneous CatL inhibition. The latter points to a synergy that could be used in clinical treatment to lower the therapeutic dose, thus avoiding the toxic side effects of arsenite in glioblastoma management.
Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a pleiotropic cytokine with mitogenic, motogenic, morphogenic, and antiapoptotic effects in various cell types, is a cardioprotective growth factor that can counteract the loss of cardiomyocytes usually observed in cardiac diseases. HGF is a quite unstable molecule in its biologically active heterodimeric form. Since all HGF-induced biological responses are mediated by its high-affinity tyrosine kinase receptor (Met/HGF-R) encoded by the Met gene, we asked whether a monoclonal antibody (MAb) that displays receptor full agonist activity could protect cardiac muscle cell lines from hydrogen peroxide-induced apoptosis. We report that the MAb efficiently inhibited hydrogen peroxide-induced cell shrinkage, DNA fragmentation, annexin V positivity, mitochondrial translocation of bax, and caspase activation. The MAb was thus able to counteract apoptosis evaluated by both morphological and biochemical criteria. The agonist activity of the MAb was mediated by Met/HGF-R, since a Met/HGF-R-specific short hairpin RNA (shRNA) inhibited both activation of transduction pathways and motility triggered by MAb DO-24. The protective antiapoptotic effect of MAb DO-24 was dependent on activation of the ras-MAPK Erk1/2 and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase)-Akt transduction pathways, since it was abrogated by treatments with their specific pharmacological inhibitors, PD-98059 and wortmannin. Moreover, the MAb induced a motogenic, but not mitogenic, response in these cells, mimicking in all aspects the natural ligand HGF but displaying a significant higher stability than HGF in culture. This MAb may thus be a valuable substitute for HGF, being more easily available in a biologically active, highly stable, and purified form.
Three molecular forms of the proteolytic enzyme Cathepsin D (CD) are found in the cell: the precursor (proCD), the intermediate single-chain and the mature double-chain. ProCD, which is found in the Golgi Complex, is enzymatically inactive, while the intermediate and the mature forms, respectively found in endosomes and lysosomes, are enzymatically active. The latter are involved in autophagy and apoptosis pathways thus playing a crucial role in the control of cell and tissue homeostasis. ProCD can be secreted in the extracellular space and, by interacting with membrane receptors, can promote cell proliferation. At slightly acid pH, secreted proCD undergoes partial maturation and becomes active. In the extracellular space, CD can degrade the protein components of the matrix and free growth factors therein embedded, thus favoring tumor growth, invasion and angiogenesis. Based on the multiple tasks performed by CD inside and outside the cell, it is not irrational to hypothesize its involvement in cancer development and progression and a strict link between its tissue expression and the clinico-pathological features of the tumor. Thus, not surprisingly, as many as 519 articles are found in the database of pubmed with the keywords 'cathepsin D, cancer and marker'. Disappointingly, however, in spite of, or because of, this large number of studies, the scientific community has not reached a general agreement on the prognostic value of CD in cancer progression. Here, we will briefly review the relevant literature and offer a possible explanation for the conflicting data.
The lysosomal protease Cathepsin D (CD) has been implicated in the homeostasis of lymphatic tissues. We investigated whether the level of CD expression influences the progression and the clinical outcome in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas (NHLs). The expression of CD was assessed by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence in biopsies of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphomas (DLBCL, 35 cases), Follicular Lymphomas (FL, 9 cases of grade I-II plus 14 cases of grade IIIB), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemias (CLL, 17 cases) and Peripheral T-cell Lymphomas (PTCL, 5 cases). CD staining showed a cytoplasmic punctate pattern compatible with its lysosomal localization. Based on the level of CD expression and the proportion of positive cells, lymphomas were classified as 'low expressing' (< 20% of tumor cells) or 'highly expressing' (>or= 20% of tumor cells). Lymphomas highly expressing CD were associated with a worse stage (III-IV) at diagnosis (31/34 cases; p=0.002) and with a poor clinical outcome (i.e., partial remission and death; 28/34 cases; p=0.03). In the subgroup of aggressive/high grade of malignancy lymphomas (i.e., DLBCL, FL IIIB and PTCL), the Kaplan-Meier curve revealed a very low cumulative overall survival probability (approximately 20% at 5 year) for patients bearing a NHL with > 40% CD-positive cells compared to that of patients bearing a NHL with < 20% CD-positive cells ( approximately 70% at 5 year). This correlation was statistically significant (log-rank test, p=0.01). In Cox multivariate analysis CD failed to be a prognosticator independent of pathologic stage, though the hazard ratio confirmed the association of low expression with a better survival probability. These data indicate that the presence of a high percentage of CD-positive tumor cells negatively reflects on the progression of NHLs.
In this article we provide an overview of the intersection between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the autophagy pathway and discuss the potential protective effects of lithium through mechanisms that recruit autophagy and other effects. The autophagy pathway is recruited during motor neuron (MN) death both in vitro and in vivo. Despite a few controversial issues concerning the significance (detrimental/protective) of autophagy in ALS, recent findings indicate a protective role. Lithium in low doses is a well-known autophagy inducer that clears misfolded proteins and altered mitochondria from MNs. Moreover, lithium preserves mitochondria and sustains their genesis. This effect is replicated by rapamycin, which is an autophagy inducer but with a different mechanism from lithium. Lithium also increases the number of Renshaw cells that are affected early during the progression of experimental ALS. Again, lithium has been reported to decrease glial proliferation in the ALS spinal cord and induces sprouting in corticospinal fibers. Muscle Nerve 40: 173-194, 2009.