Oncolytic Properties of Ampakines In Vitro

Anticancer Res. 2018 Jan;38(1):265-269. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.12217.


Background/aim: The 5-year survival rate of glioblastoma (GBM) is ~10%, demonstrating that a new therapeutic modality for this cancer is desperately needed. Complicating the search for such a modality is that most large molecules cannot pass through the blood brain barrier, so molecules demonstrating efficacy in vitro may not be useful in vivo because they never reach the brain. Recently, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine (FLX) was identified as an effective agent in targeting GBM in vitro and in vivo by agonizing AMPA-glutamate receptors (AMPARs), eliciting massive calcium influx and mitochondrial calcium overload and apoptosis.

Materials and methods: In the current study, we used a colorimetric cell viability assay to determine if we could enhance the oncolytic effect of FLX in vitro by pre-treating cells with an AMPAR-positive allosteric modulator (Ampakine).

Results: Our results demonstrated for the first time that concentrations of the Class I ampakine CX614, which increase AMPAR agonist binding affinity, possess oncolytic activity as a sole agent and synergistically reduce GBM viability when paired with FLX. FLX also demonstrates a dose-dependent induction of apoptosis in cancer cells originating outside the CNS that overexpress calcium-permeable AMPARs. Likewise, CX614 inhibits cancer cell viability in a dose-dependent fashion and its combination with FLX synergistically reduces cell viability. These effects of CX614 were not seen with the Class II ampakines, CX717 and CX1739.

Conclusion: CX614 inhibits the growth of multiple cancers in vitro and bolsters the oncolytic activity of FLX in several cancers.

Keywords: Ampa receptor; Ampakine; SSRI; apoptosis; calcium influx; synergy.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology*
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Oxazines / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, AMPA


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Oxazines
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Fluoxetine
  • 2H,3H,6aH-pyrrolidino(2'',1''-3',2')1,3-oxazino(6',5'-5,4)benzo(e)1, 4-dioxan-10-one