Hyperthermia (HT) improves the efficacy of anti-cancer radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, HT also inevitably evokes stress responses and increases the expression of heat-shock proteins (HSPs) in cancer cells. Among the HSPs, HSP70 is known as a pro-survival protein. In this study, we investigated the sensitizing effect of pifithrin (PFT)-μ, a small molecule inhibitor of HSP70, when three human prostate cancer cell lines (LNCaP, PC-3, and DU-145) were treated with HT (43°C for 2 h). All cell lines constitutively expressed HSP70, and HT further increased its expression in LNCaP and DU-145. Knockdown of HSP70 with RNA interference decreased the viability and colony-forming ability of cancer cells. PFT-μ decreased the viabilities of all cell lines at one-tenth the dose of Quercetin, a well-known HSP inhibitor. The combination therapy with suboptimal doses of PFT-μ and HT decreased the viability of cancer cells most effectively when PFT-μ was added immediately before HT, and this combination effect was abolished by pre-knockdown of HSP70, suggesting that the effect was mediated via HSP70 inhibition. The combination therapy induced cell death, partially caspase-dependent, and decreased proliferating cancer cells, with decreased expression of c-Myc and cyclin D1 and increased expression of p21^<WAF1/Cip>, indicating arrest of cell growth. Additionally, the combination therapy significantly decreased the colony-forming ability of cancer cells compared to therapy with either alone. Furthermore, in a xenograft mouse model, the combination therapy significantly inhibited PC-3 tumor growth. These findings suggest that PFT-μ can effectively enhance HT-induced antitumor effects via HSP70 inhibition by inducing cell death and arrest of cell growth, and that PFT-μ is a promising agent for use in combination with HT to treat prostate cancer.
Public Library of Science
© 2013 Sekihara et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.