Auranofin/Vitamin C: A Novel Drug Combination Targeting Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Elie Hatem, Sandy Azzi, Nadine El Banna, Tiantian He, Amélie Heneman-Masurel, Laurence Vernis, Dorothée Baïlle, Vanessa Masson, Florent Dingli, Damarys Loew, Bruno Azzarone, Pierre Eid, Giuseppe Baldacci, Meng-Er Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cancer cells from different origins exhibit various basal redox statuses and thus respond differently to intrinsic or extrinsic oxidative stress. These intricate characteristics condition the success of redox-based anticancer therapies that capitalize on the ability of reactive oxygen species to achieve selective and efficient cancer cell killing.

METHODS: Redox biology methods, stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC)-based proteomics, and bioinformatics pattern comparisons were used to decipher the underlying mechanisms for differential response of lung and breast cancer cell models to redox-modulating molecule auranofin (AUF) and to combinations of AUF and vitamin C (VC). The in vivo effect of AUF, VC, and two AUF/VC combinations on mice bearing MDA-MB-231 xenografts (n = 5 mice per group) was also evaluated. All statistical tests were two-sided.

RESULTS: AUF targeted simultaneously the thioredoxin and glutathione antioxidant systems. AUF/VC combinations exerted a synergistic and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-mediated cytotoxicity toward MDA-MB-231 cells and other breast cancer cell lines. The anticancer potential of AUF/VC combinations was validated in vivo on MDA-MB-231 xenografts in mice without notable side effects. On day 14 of treatments, mean (SD) tumor volumes for the vehicle-treated control group and the two AUF/VC combination-treated groups (A/V1 and A/V2) were 197.67 (24.28) mm3, 15.66 (10.90) mm3, and 10.23 (7.30)mm3, respectively; adjusted P values of the differences between mean tumor volumes of vehicle vs A/V1 groups and vehicle vs A/V2 groups were both less than .001. SILAC proteomics, bioinformatics analysis, and functional experiments linked prostaglandin reductase 1 (PTGR1) expression levels with breast cancer cell sensitivity to AUF/VC combinations.

CONCLUSION: The combination of AUF and VC, two commonly available drugs, could be efficient against triple-negative breast cancer and potentially other cancers with similar redox properties and PTGR1 expression levels. The redox-based anticancer activity of this combination and the discriminatory potential of PTGR1 expression are worth further assessment in preclinical and clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019


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