N,N-Dimethyl phytosphingosine sensitizes HL-60/MX2, a multidrug-resistant variant of HL-60 cells, to doxorubicin-induced cytotoxicity through ROS-mediated release of cytochrome c and AIF.Apoptosis. 2010 Aug; 15(8):982-93.A
Doxorubicin (Dox) is widely used to treat a variety of tumors. However, resistance to this drug is common, making successful treatment more difficult. Previously, we introduced a novel phytosphingosine derivative, N,N-dimethyl phytosphingosine (DMPS), as a potent anticancer therapeutic agent in human leukemia cells. This study was performed to investigate whether DMPS can sensitize HL-60/MX2, a multidrug-resistant variant of HL-60, to Dox-induced apoptosis. Low concentrations of DMPS sensitized HL-60/MX2 cells to Dox-induced apoptosis. Combined Dox + DMPS treatment-induced apoptosis was accompanied by the activation of caspase-8 and caspase-3 as well as PARP cleavage. Cytochrome c and AIF release were also observed in Dox + DMPS-treated HL60/MX2 cells. Pretreatment with z-VAD-fmk markedly prevented caspase-3 activation and moderately suppressed apoptosis, suggesting that Dox + DMPS-induced apoptosis is somewhat (not completely) dependent on caspase. Cytochrome c and AIF release were not affected by pretreatment with z-VAD-fmk. The ROS scavenger NAC efficiently suppressed not only ROS generation, but also caspase-3-mediated PARP cleavage, apoptosis, and release of cytochrome c and AIF, indicating a role of ROS in combined Dox + DMPS treatment-induced apoptotic death signaling. Taken together, these observations suggest that DMPS may be used as a therapeutic agent for overcoming drug-resistance in cancer cells by enhancing drug-induced apoptosis.