Novel cell death pathways induced by N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide: Therapeutic implications

Roberta Venè, Giuseppe Arena, Alessandro Poggi, Cristina D'Arrigo, Michele Mormino, Douglas M. Noonan, Adriana Albini, Francesca Tosetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We previously reported that N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide (4HPR) inhibits retinoblastoma tumor growth in a murine model in vivo and kills Y79 retinoblastoma cells in vitro. In this work, we assayed different cell death - related parameters, including mitochondrial damage and caspase activation, in Y79 cells exposed to 4HPR. 4HPR induced cytochrome c release from mitochondria, caspase-3 activation, and oligonucleosomal DNA fragmentation. However, pharmacologic inactivation of caspases by the pan-caspase inhibitor BOC-D-fmk, or specific caspase-3 inhibition by Z-DEVD-fmk, was not sufficient to prevent cell death, as assessed by loss of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide reduction, lactate dehydrogenase release, disruption of mitochondrial transmembrane potential (Δψm), and ATP depletion. We found that 4HPR causes lysosomal membrane permeabilization and cytosolic relocation of cathepsin D. Pepstatin A partially rescued cell viability and reduced DNA fragmentation and cytosolic cytochrome c. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine attenuated cathepsin D relocation into the cytosol, suggesting that lysosomal destabilization is dependent on elevation of reactive oxygen species and precedes mitochondrial dysfunction. Activation of AKT, which regulates energy level in the cell, by the retinal survival factor insulin-like growth factor I was impaired and insulin-like growth factor I was ineffective against ATP and Δψm loss in the presence of 4HPR. Lysosomal destabilization, associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, was induced by 4HPR also in other cancer cell lines, including PC3 prostate adenocarcinoma and the vascular tumor Kaposi sarcoma KS-Imm cells. The novel finding of a lysosome-mediated cell death pathway activated by 4HPR could have implications at clinical level for the development of combination chemoprevention and therapy of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-298
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology

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