D-alpha-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol succinate (TPGS) induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis selectively in Survivin-overexpressing breast cancer cells
Neophytou, Constantinos M.
Constantinou, Andreas I.
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d-alpha-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol succinate (TPGS) is a vitamin E derivative that has been intensively applied as a vehicle for drug delivery systems to enhance drug solubility and increase the oral bioavailability of anti-cancer drugs. Recently, it has been reported that TPGS acts as an anti-cancer agent alone or synergistically with chemotherapeutic drugs and increases the efficacy of nanoparticle formulations. In this study, we investigated the antitumor efficacy and the molecular mechanism of action of TPGS in breast cancer cell lines. Our results show that TPGS can induce G1/S cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) but not in "normal" (non-tumorigenic) immortalized cells (MCF-10A and MCF-12F). An investigation of the molecular mechanism of action of TPGS reveals that induction of G1/S phase cell cycle arrest is associated with upregulation of P21 and P27Kip1 proteins. Induction of apoptosis by TPGS involves the inhibition of phospho-AKT and the downregulation of the anti-apoptotic proteins Survivin and Bcl-2. Interestingly, our results also suggest that TPGS induces both caspase -dependent and -independent apoptotic signaling pathways and that this vitamin E derivative is selectively cytotoxic in breast cancer cell lines. When compared to the Survivin inhibitor YM155, TPGS was shown to be more selective for cancer cell growth inhibition. Overall our results suggest that TPGS may not only be useful as a carrier molecule for drug delivery, but may also exert intrinsic therapeutic effects suggesting that it may promote a synergistic interaction with formulated chemotherapeutic drugs.