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. 2010 Nov;6(8):1157-67.
doi: 10.4161/auto.6.8.13614. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

FTY720 Induces Necrotic Cell Death and Autophagy in Ovarian Cancer Cells: A Protective Role of Autophagy


FTY720 Induces Necrotic Cell Death and Autophagy in Ovarian Cancer Cells: A Protective Role of Autophagy

Ning Zhang et al. Autophagy. .


FTY720, a sphingosine analog, is a novel immunosuppressant currently undergoing multiple clinical trials for the prevention of organ transplant rejection and treatment of various autoimmune diseases. Recent studies indicate an additional cytotoxic effect of FTY720 and its preclinical efficacy in a variety of cancer models, yet the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We demonstrate here for the first time that FTY720 exhibits a potent, dose- and time-dependent cytotoxic effect in human ovarian cancer cells, even in the cells that are resistant to cisplatin, a commonly prescribed chemotherapeutic drug for treatment of ovarian cancer. In contrast to the previously reported cytotoxicity of FTY720 in many other cancer cell types, FTY720 kills ovarian cancer cells independent of caspase 3 activity and induces cellular swelling and cytoplasmic vacuolization with evident features of necrotic cell death. Furthermore, the presence of autophagic hallmarks, including an increased number of autophagosomes and the formation and accumulation of LC3-II, are observed in FTY720-treated cells before cell death. FTY720 treatment enhances autophagic flux as reflected in the increased LC3 turnover and p62 degradation. Notably, blockade of autophagy by either specific chemical inhibitors or siRNAs targeting Beclin 1 or LC3 resulted in aggravated necrotic cell death in response to FTY720, suggesting that FTY720-induced autophagy plays a self-protective role against its own cytotoxic effect. Thus, our findings not only demonstrate a new death pathway underlying the cytotoxic effect of FTY720, but also suggest that targeting autophagy could augment the anticancer potency, providing the framework for further development of FTY720 as a new chemotherapeutic agent for ovarian cancer treatment.

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