Effect of the STAT3 inhibitor STX-0119 on the proliferation of cancer stem-like cells derived from recurrent glioblastoma

Int J Oncol. 2013 Jul;43(1):219-27. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2013.1916. Epub 2013 Apr 23.


Signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3, a member of a family of DNA-binding molecules, is a potential target in the treatment of cancer. The highly phosphorylated STAT3 in cancer cells contributes to numerous physiological and oncogenic signaling pathways. Furthermore, a significant association between STAT3 signaling and glioblastoma multiforme stem-like cell (GBM-SC) development and maintenance has been demonstrated in recent studies. Previously, we reported a novel small molecule inhibitor of STAT3 dimerization, STX-0119, as a cancer therapeutic. In the present study, we focused on cancer stem-like cells derived from recurrent GBM patients and investigated the efficacy of STX-0119. Three GBM stem cell lines showed many stem cell markers such as CD133, EGFR, Nanog, Olig2, nestin and Yamanaka factors (c-myc, KLF4, Oct3/4 and SOX2) compared with parental cell lines. These cell lines also formed tumors in vivo and had similar histological to surgically resected tumors. STAT3 phosphorylation was activated more in the GBM-SC lines than serum-derived GB cell lines. The growth inhibitory effect of STX-0119 on GBM-SCs was moderate (IC50 15-44 µM) and stronger compared to that of WP1066 in two cell lines. On the other hand, the effect of temozolomide was weak in all the cell lines (IC50 53-226 µM). Notably, STX-0119 demonstrated strong inhibition of the expression of STAT3 target genes (c-myc, survivin, cyclin D1, HIF-1α and VEGF) and stem cell-associated genes (CD44, Nanog, nestin and CD133) as well as the induction of apoptosis in one stem-like cell line. Interestingly, VEGFR2 mRNA was also remarkably inhibited by STX-0119. In a model using transplantable stem-like cell lines in vivo GB-SCC010 and 026, STX-0119 inhibited the growth of GBM-SCs at 80 mg/kg. STX-0119, an inhibitor of STAT3, may serve as a novel therapeutic compound against GBM-SCs even in temozolomide-resistant GBM patients and has the potential for GBM-SC-specific therapeutics in combination with temozolomide plus radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Oxadiazoles / administration & dosage*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Quinolines / administration & dosage*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Oxadiazoles
  • Quinolines
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • STX-0119