Functional Biological Activity of Sorafenib as a Tumor-Treating Field Sensitizer for Glioblastoma Therapy

Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Nov 21;19(11):3684. doi: 10.3390/ijms19113684.


Glioblastoma, the most common primary brain tumor in adults, is an incurable malignancy with poor short-term survival and is typically treated with radiotherapy along with temozolomide. While the development of tumor-treating fields (TTFields), electric fields with alternating low and intermediate intensity has facilitated glioblastoma treatment, clinical outcomes of TTFields are reportedly inconsistent. However, combinatorial administration of chemotherapy with TTFields has proven effective for glioblastoma patients. Sorafenib, an anti-proliferative and apoptogenic agent, is used as first-line treatment for glioblastoma. This study aimed to investigate the effect of sorafenib on TTFields-induced anti-tumor and anti-angiogenesis responses in glioblastoma cells in vitro and in vivo. Sorafenib sensitized glioblastoma cells to TTFields, as evident from significantly decreased post-TTFields cell viability (p < 0.05), and combinatorial treatment with sorafenib and TTFields accelerated apoptosis via reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, as evident from Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage. Furthermore, use of sorafenib plus TTFields increased autophagy, as evident from LC3 upregulation and autophagic vacuole formation. Cell cycle markers accumulated, and cells underwent a G2/M arrest, with an increased G0/G1 cell ratio. In addition, the combinatorial treatment significantly inhibited tumor cell motility and invasiveness, and angiogenesis. Our results suggest that combination therapy with sorafenib and TTFields is slightly better than each individual therapy and could potentially be used to treat glioblastoma in clinic, which requires further studies.

Keywords: glioblastoma; sorafenib; tumor-treating fields.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Autophagy
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sorafenib / administration & dosage
  • Sorafenib / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Sorafenib
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases