High Levels of Apoptosis Are Induced in the Human Colon Cancer HT-29 Cell Line by Co-Administration of Sulforaphane and a Peptide Nucleic Acid Targeting miR-15b-5p

Jessica Gasparello, Laura Gambari, Chiara Papi, Andrea Rozzi, Alex Manicardi, Roberto Corradini, Roberto Gambari, Alessia Finotti

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Sulforaphane (SFN) is one of most important dietary constituents of broccoli (Brassica oleracea) and other cruciferous vegetables, which have been reported to exhibit health benefits, including prevention and therapy of cancer, such as colorectal carcinoma (CRC). The objective of this study was to determine whether the anticancer effect of SFN on colon cancer HT-29 cell line could be improved by the combined treatment with molecules inhibiting microRNAs (miRNAs) involved in CRC. As miRNA inhibiting molecules we focused on peptide-nucleic acids (PNAs). As miRNA to be targeted, miR-15b-5p was selected on the basis of several information present in the literature and confirming that miR-15b-5p is overexpressed in colon cancer patients, and that its targeting decreases cell migration and metastasis in colorectal cancer. In this article, we described for the first time the efficacy of targeting miR-15b-5p by using a PNA against miR-15b-5p (R8-PNA-a15b), functionalized with an octoarginine peptide (R8) for maximizing cellular uptake. The miR-15b-5p downregulation in the colon cancer HT-29 cell line was associated with inhibition of in vitro cell growth and activation of the proapoptotic pathway, demonstrated by a sharp increase of late apoptotic cells in HT-29-treated cell populations. A second conclusion of this study is that the R8-PNA-a15b might be proposed in "combo-therapy" associated with SFN. To our knowledge, no report is available in the literature on a combination between SFN and miRNA-targeting molecules. Our data demonstrate that this combined treatment leads to a very high proportion of apoptotic HT-29 cells (over 85%), a value higher than the sum of the values of apoptotic cells obtained after singularly administered regents (either SFN or R8-PNA-a15b).

Original languageEnglish
JournalNucleic Acid Therapeutics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 17 2020


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