In the present work, we have investigated the antitumor activity of 6-(7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-ylthio)hexanol (NBDHEX) on aggressive small cell lung cancer. NBDHEX not only is cytotoxic toward the parental small cell lung cancer H69 cell line (LC50 of 2.3 ± 0.6 μmol/L) but also overcomes the multidrug resistance of its variant, H69AR, which overexpresses the ATP-binding cassette transporter multidrug resistance-associated protein 1 (MRP1; LC50 of 4.5 ± 0.9 μmol/L). Drug efflux experiments, done in the presence of a specific inhibitor of MRP1, confirmed that NBDHEX is not a substrate for this export pump. Interestingly, NBDHEX triggers two different types of cell death: a caspase-dependent apoptosis in the H69AR cells and a necrotic phenotype in the parental H69 cells. The apoptotic pathway triggered by NBDHEX in H69AR cells is associated with c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase and c-Jun activation, whereas glutathione oxidation and activation of p38MAPK is observed in the NBDHEX-treated H69 cells. In contrast to the parental cells, the higher propensity to die through apoptosis of the H69AR cell line may be related to the lower expression of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2. Therefore, down-regulation of a factor crucial for cell survival makes H69AR cells more sensitive to the cytotoxic action of NBDHEX, which is not a MRP1 substrate. We have previously shown that NBDHEX is cytotoxic toward P-glycoprotein-overexpressing tumor cell lines. Therefore, NBDHEX seems a very promising compound in the search for new molecules able to overcome the ATP-binding cassette family of proteins, one of the major mechanisms of multidrug resistance in cancer cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Drug Discovery