Sensitization of glioma cells to tamoxifen-induced apoptosis by Pl3-kinase inhibitor through the GSK-3β/β-catenin signaling pathway

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e27053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027053. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


Malignant gliomas represent one of the most aggressive types of cancers and their recurrence is closely linked to acquired therapeutic resistance. A combination of chemotherapy is considered a promising therapeutic model in overcoming therapeutic resistance and enhancing treatment efficacy. Herein, we show by colony formation, Hochest 33342 and TUNEL staining, as well as by flow cytometric analysis, that LY294002, a specific phosphatidylinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor, enhanced significantly the sensitization of a traditional cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agent, tamoxifen-induced apoptosis in C6 glioma cells. Activation of PI3K signaling pathway by IGF-1 protected U251 cells from apoptosis induced by combination treatment of LY294002 and tamoxifen. Interference of PI3K signaling pathway by PI3K subunit P85 siRNA enhanced the sensitization of U251 glioma cells to tamoxifen -induced apoptosis. By Western blotting, we found that combination treatment showed lower levels of phosphorylated Akt(Ser473) and GSK-3β(Ser9) than a single treatment of LY294002. Further, we showed a significant decrease of nuclear β-catenin by combination treatment. In response to the inhibition of β-catenin signaling, mRNA and protein levels of Survivin and the other three antiapoptotic genes Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1 were significantly decreased by combination treatment. Our results indicated that the synergistic cytotoxic effect of LY294002 and tamoxifen is achieved by the inhibition of GSK-3β/β-catenin signaling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Glioma / drug therapy
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Humans
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • beta Catenin
  • Tamoxifen
  • GSK3B protein, human
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3