A wide range of anti-cancer therapies have been shown to induce resistance upon repetitive treatment and such adapted resistance may also cause cross-resistance to other treatment modalities. We here show that MES-SA/Dx5 cells with adapted resistance to doxorubicin (DOX) are cross-resistant to photodynamic therapy (PDT). A DOX-induced increased expression of the reactive oxygen species (ROS)-scavenging proteins glutathione peroxidase (GPx) 1 and GPx4 in MES-SA/Dx5 cells was indicated as the mechanism of resistance to PDT in line with the reduction in PDT-generated ROS observed in this cell line. ROS-induced p38 activation was, in addition, shown to be reduced to one-third of the signal of the parental MES-SA cells 2h after PDT, and addition of the p38 inhibitor SB203580 confirmed p38 activation as a death signal after PDT in the MES-SA cells. The MES-SA/Dx5 cells were also cross-resistant to ionizing radiation in agreement with the increased GPx1 and GPx4 expression. Surprisingly, PDT-induced endo/lysosomal release of the ribosome-inactivating protein gelonin (photochemical internalization (PCI)) was more effective in the PDT-resistant MES-SA/Dx5 cells, as measured by synergy calculations in both cell lines. Analysis of death-inducing signaling indicated a low activation of caspase-3 and a strong PARP I cleavage after PDT and PCI in both cell lines. The PARP I activation was, however, stronger after PCI than after PDT in the MES-SA cells, but not in the MES-SA/Dx5 cells, and therefore cannot explain the strong PCI effect in the MES-SA/Dx5 cells. In conclusion PCI of recombinant gelonin circumvents ROS resistance in an apoptosis-independent manner.
Keywords: Doxorubicin, ROS; Free radicals; Glutathione peroxidase; Ionizing radiation; Photochemical internalization; Photodynamic therapy; Resistance; Toxin; p38.
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