Dopamine receptor antagonist thioridazine inhibits tumor growth in a murine breast cancer model

Mol Med Rep. 2015 Sep;12(3):4103-4108. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.3967. Epub 2015 Jun 22.


Neuropsychological factors have been shown to influence tumor progression and therapeutic response. The present study investigated the effect of the dopamine receptor antagonist thioridazine on murine breast cancer. The anti‑tumor efficacy of thioridazine was assessed using a murine breast cancer model. Cell apoptosis and proliferation were analyzed in vitro using flow cytometry (FCM) and the MTT assay, respectively. Western blot analysis was performed to assess Akt, phosphorylated (p)‑Akt, signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3, p‑STAT3 and p‑p65 in tumor cells following treatment with thioridazine. The Ki67 index and the number of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL)‑positive apoptotic cells were assessed in the tumor sections. Thioridazine was found to reduce tumor growth, inhibit tumor cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in a dose‑ and time‑dependent manner in vitro. Thioridazine was also found to markedly inhibit tumor proliferation and induce tumor cell apoptosis in vivo as shown by the lower Ki67 index and increase in TUNEL‑positive cells. In addition, thioridazine was observed to inhibit the activation of the canonical nuclear factor κ‑light‑chain‑enhancer of activated B cells pathway and exert anti‑tumor effects by remodeling the tumor stroma, as well as inhibit angiogenesis in the tumor microenvironment. In conclusion, thioridazine was found to significantly inhibit breast tumor growth and the potential for thioridazine to be used in cancer therapy may be re‑evaluated and investigated in clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine Antagonists / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Thioridazine / toxicity*
  • Transcription Factor RelA / metabolism


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Thioridazine