The GD2-specific 14G2a monoclonal antibody induces apoptosis and enhances cytotoxicity of chemotherapeutic drugs in IMR-32 human neuroblastoma cells

Cancer Lett. 2009 Aug 28;281(2):171-82. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.02.040. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial solid tumor of childhood. The majority of children suffers from high risk neuroblastoma and has disseminated disease at the time of diagnosis. Despite recent advances in chemotherapy, the prognoses for children with high risk NB remain poor. Therefore, new treatment modalities are urgently needed. GD2 ganglioside is an antigen that is highly expressed on NB cells with only limited distribution on healthy tissues. Consequently, it appears to be an ideal target for both active and passive immunotherapy. The immunological effector mechanisms mediated by anti-GD2 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have been already well characterized. However, a growing number of reports suggest that GD2-specific antibodies may exhibit anti-proliferative effects without the immune system involvement. Here, we have shown that anti-GD2 14G2a mAb is capable of decreasing survival of IMR-32 human neuroblastoma cells in a dose-dependent manner. Death induced by this antibody exhibited several characteristics typical for apoptosis such as increased number of Annexin V- and propidium iodide-positive cells, cleavage of caspase 3 and prominent rise in caspase activity. The use of a pan caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-fmk suggested that the killing potential of this mAb is partially caspase-dependent. 14G2a mAb was rapidly endocytosed upon antigen binding. Employment of chloroquine, an inhibitor of lysosomal degradation, did not rescue IMR-32 cells from antibody-induced cell death suggesting lack of ceramide involvement in the observed effect. Most importantly, our studies showed that at particular drug concentrations 14G2a mAb exerts a synergistic effect with doxorubicin and topotecan, as well as an additive effect with carboplatin in killing IMR-32 cells in vitro. Our results provide guidance regarding how to best combine GD2-specific 14G2a antibody with existing cancer therapeutic agents to improve available treatment modalities for neuroblastoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carboplatin / administration & dosage
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Drug Synergism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gangliosides / immunology*
  • Gangliosides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neuroblastoma / immunology*
  • Topotecan / administration & dosage


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Gangliosides
  • ganglioside, GD2
  • Topotecan
  • Doxorubicin
  • Carboplatin