Effective Synergy of Sorafenib and Nutrient Shortage in Inducing Melanoma Cell Death through Energy Stress

Fernanda Antunes, Gustavo J S Pereira, Renata F Saito, Marcus V Buri, Mara Gagliardi, Claudia Bincoletto, Roger Chammas, Gian Maria Fimia, Mauro Piacentini, Marco Corazzari, Soraya Soubhi Smaili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Skin melanoma is one of the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat human malignancies, characterized by poor survival rates, thus requiring urgent novel therapeutic approaches. Although metabolic reprogramming has represented so far, a cancer hallmark, accumulating data indicate a high plasticity of cancer cells in modulating cellular metabolism to adapt to a heterogeneous and continuously changing microenvironment, suggesting a novel therapeutic approach for dietary manipulation in cancer therapy. To this aim, we exposed melanoma cells to combined nutrient-restriction/sorafenib. Results indicate that cell death was efficiently induced, with apoptosis representing the prominent feature. In contrast, autophagy was blocked in the final stage by this treatment, similarly to chloroquine, which also enhanced melanoma cell sensitization to combined treatment. Energy stress was evidenced by associated treatment with mitochondrial dysfunction and glycolysis impairment, suggesting metabolic stress determining melanoma cell death. A reduction of tumor growth after cycles of intermittent fasting together with sorafenib treatment was also observed in vivo, reinforcing that the nutrient shortage can potentiate anti-melanoma therapy. Our findings showed that the restriction of nutrients by intermittent fasting potentiates the effects of sorafenib due to the modulation of cellular metabolism, suggesting that it is possible to harness the energy of cancer cells for the treatment of melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 6 2020


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