Background and purpose: Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is a newly approved drug for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis and relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Here, we investigated the effects of DMF and its metabolites mono-methylfumarate (MMF and methanol) on different gastrointestinal cancer cell lines and the underlying molecular mechanisms involved.
Experimental approach: Cell viability was measured by the MTT or CCK8 assay. Protein expressions were measured by Western blot analysis. LDH release, live- and dead-cell staining, intracellular GSH levels, and mitochondrial membrane potential were examined by using commercial kits.
Key results: DMF but not MMF induced cell necroptosis, as demonstrated by the pharmacological tool necrostatin-1, transmission electron microscopy, LDH and HMGB1 release in CT26 cells. The DMF-induced decrease in cellular GSH levels as well as cell viability and increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) were inhibited by co-treatment with GSH and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in CT26 cells. DMF activated JNK, p38 and ERK MAPKs in CT26 cells and JNK, p38 and ERK inhibitors partially reversed the DMF-induced decrease in cell viability. GSH or NAC treatment inhibited DMF-induced JNK, p38, and ERK activation in CT26 cells. DMF but not MMF increased autophagy responses in SGC-7901, HCT116, HT29 and CT26 cancer cells, but autophagy inhibition did not prevent the DMF-induced decrease in cell viability.
Conclusion and implications: DMF but not its metabolite MMF induced necroptosis in colon cancer cells through a mechanism involving the depletion of GSH, an increase in ROS and activation of MAPKs.
© 2015 The British Pharmacological Society.