Purpose: Berberine (BBR), a traditional Chinese medicine, has been shown effects on inhibiting cancer development. Autophagy-mediated resistance plays an important role in cancer progression; therefore, regulation of autophagy is a novel therapeutic strategy for cancer treatment. However, effects of BBR on autophagy-mediated resistance have not been reported.
Methods: MCF-7 breast cancer cells and the doxorubicin (ADR)-resistant MCF-7 cells (MCF-7/ADR) were used for analyses. Western blotting was conducted to evaluate protein expression; MTT, colony formation, and EdU assays were conducted to assess cell proliferation; transmission electron microscopy was used to monitor autophagy levels; and a xenograft tumor model was established to assess the effects of BBR on reversing doxorubicin resistance.
Results: We confirmed that BBR, recently identified as a suppressor of autophagy, inhibits autophagosome formation in MCF-7/ADR cells. Treatment with BBR blocked the accumulation of the autophagy-associated protein LC3II, resulting in cellular accumulation of p62, reduced cell proliferation, and reversal of doxorubicin resistance. Mechanistically, we found that BBR inhibited autophagy by modulating the PTEN/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. In vivo, our study showed that BBR exerts clear anti-tumor effects.
Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that BBR reverses doxorubicin resistance in breast cancer cells by inhibiting autophagy. This finding highlights the potential clinical application of BBR in the treatment of breast cancer.
Keywords: ADR; PTEN; autophagy; berberine; breast cancer; chemoresistance.
© 2020 Wang et al.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.
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