Antimetabolites are a class of effective anticancer drugs interfering in essential biochemical processes. 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) and its prodrug Capecitabine are widely used in the treatment of several solid tumors (gastro-intestinal, gynecological, head and neck, breast carcinomas). Therapy with fluoropyrimidines is associated with a wide range of adverse effects, including diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, nausea, stomatitis, and hand-foot syndrome. Among the 5-FU side effects, increasing attention is given to cardiovascular toxicities induced at different levels and intensities. Since the mechanisms related to 5-FU-induced cardiotoxicity are still unclear, we examined the effects of 5-FU on primary cell cultures of human cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells, which represent two key components of the cardiovascular system. We analyzed at the cellular and molecular level 5-FU effects on cell proliferation, cell cycle, survival and induction of apoptosis, in an experimental cardioncology approach. We observed autophagic features at the ultrastructural and molecular levels, in particular in 5-FU exposed cardiomyocytes. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) elevation characterized the endothelial response. These responses were prevented by a ROS scavenger. We found induction of a senescent phenotype on both cell types treated with 5-FU. In vivo, in a xenograft model of colon cancer, we showed that 5-FU treatment induced ultrastructural changes in the endothelium of various organs. Taken together, our data suggest that 5-FU can affect, both at the cellular and molecular levels, two key cell types of the cardiovascular system, potentially explaining some manifestations of 5-FU-induced cardiovascular toxicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)