Survival of patients with glioblastoma (GBM) remains poor, and novel treatment methods are urgently needed. In this study, we tested the effects of a combination of fasudil, a ROCK inhibitor, and clioquinol, an 8-hydroxyquinoline derivative with antimicrobial properties, on human GBM U87 cells. Combination treatment synergistically inhibited the viability of glioma cells but not mouse normal neuron HT22 cells and significantly induced mitochondria-mediated apoptosis. Moreover, the combination was also found to trigger macro-autophagy (henceforth referred to as autophagy) by increasing the expression levels of several proteins involved in the induction of autophagy. Further studies showed that 3-methyladenine (3-MA) or chloroquine (CQ), two autophagy inhibitors, abrogated the cytotoxic effects of the combination treatment as well as the autophagy. Overall, we demonstrated that fasudil and clioquinol show synergistic anti-cancer effects, providing evidence for the further development of combination therapy for GBM.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Autophagy; Clioquinol; Fasudil; Glioblastoma; Synergistic effect.