Do Wortmannin and Thalidomide induce apoptosis by autophagy inhibition in 4T1 breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo?

Am J Transl Res. 2021 Jun 15;13(6):6236-6247. eCollection 2021.


The aim of this study was to show the effects of autophagy inhibitor Wortmannin and antiangiogenic-proapoptotic Thalidomide on autophagy and apoptosis markers in 4T1 breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. The half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of 4T1 cells for Wortmannin and Thalidomide were evaluated by Methylthiazolyldiphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. After cancer formation in 28 BALB/C female mice, drugs were administered for seven days. Cells and tissue sections were evaluated for anti-phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), anti- the microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain3 (MAPLC3β), anti-caspase 8, anti-caspase 9, and anti-caspase 3 immunoreactivities by immunohistochemical staining and apoptosis by Terminal Transferase dUTP Nick End Labeling (TUNEL) assay. Both PI3K and MAPLC3β immunoreactivities decreased in all treatments when compared to control group except Thalidomide treatment in primary cancer tissue. The caspase 3, 8, and 9 immunoreactivities were increased in all treatment groups and TUNEL positive cells were the highest in the Wortmannin and Thalidomide group. Our findings suggest that autophagy is an important mechanism for 4T1 cells and both Wortmannin and Thalidomide treatments inhibit autophagy and induce apoptosis. In primary cancer tissues, autophagy was not effective as in vitro. The treatment of Wortmannin and Thalidomide increased the apoptotic cells in vivo independent from autophagy inhibition. Different results may be because of microenvironment. Further studies must be done to elucidate the effect of microenvironment.

Keywords: Breast cancer; apoptosis; autophagy; thalidomide; wortmannin.