Background: Tumor spreading is the major threat for cancer patients. The recently published anti-cancer drug salinomycin raised hope for an improved treatment by targeting therapy-refractory cancer stem cells. However, an unambiguous role of salinomycin against cancer cell migration and metastasis formation remains elusive.
Findings: We report that salinomycin effectively inhibits cancer cell migration in a variety of cancer types as determined by Boyden chamber assays. Additionally, cells were treated with doxorubicin at a concentration causing a comparable low cytotoxicity, emphasizing the anti-migratory potential of salinomycin. Moreover, single-cell tracking by time-lapse microscopy demonstrated a remarkable effect of salinomycin on breast cancer cell motility. Ultimately, salinomycin treatment significantly reduced the metastatic tumor burden in a syngenic mouse tumor model.
Conclusions: Our findings clearly show that salinomycin can strongly inhibit cancer cell migration independent of the induction of cell death. We furthermore demonstrate for the first time that salinomycin treatment reduces metastasis formation in vivo, strengthening its role as promising anti-cancer therapeutic.