Background: Resistance to apoptosis is a paramount issue in the treatment of Glioblastoma (GBM). We show that targeting PARP by the small molecule inhibitors, Olaparib (AZD-2281) or PJ34, reduces proliferation and lowers the apoptotic threshold of GBM cells in vitro and in vivo.
Methods: The sensitizing effects of PARP inhibition on TRAIL-mediated apoptosis and potential toxicity were analyzed using viability assays and flow cytometry in established GBM cell lines, low-passage neurospheres and astrocytes in vitro. Molecular analyses included western blots and gene silencing. In vivo, effects on tumor growth were examined in a murine subcutaneous xenograft model.
Results: The combination treatment of PARP inhibitors and TRAIL led to an increased cell death with activation of caspases and inhibition of formation of neurospheres when compared to single-agent treatment. Mechanistically, pharmacological PARP inhibition elicited a nuclear stress response with up-regulation of down-stream DNA-stress response proteins, e.g., CCAAT enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) homology protein (CHOP). Furthermore, Olaparib and PJ34 increased protein levels of DR5 in a concentration and time-dependent manner. In turn, siRNA-mediated suppression of DR5 mitigated the effects of TRAIL/PARP inhibitor-mediated apoptosis. In addition, suppression of PARP-1 levels enhanced TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in malignant glioma cells. Treatment of human astrocytes with the combination of TRAIL/PARP inhibitors did not cause toxicity. Finally, the combination treatment of TRAIL and PJ34 significantly reduced tumor growth in vivo when compared to treatment with each agent alone.
Conclusions: PARP inhibition represents a promising avenue to overcome apoptotic resistance in GBM.