Differential effect of long-term drug selection with doxorubicin and vorinostat on neuroblastoma cells with cancer stem cell characteristics

Zheng, X.; Naiditch, J.; Czurylo, M.; Jie, C.; Lautz, T.; Clark, S.; Jafari, N.; Qiu, Y.; Chu, F.; Madonna, M. B.

Cell Death Dis. 2013 Jul 28; 4:e740


Numerous studies have confirmed that cancer stem cells (CSCs) are more resistant to chemotherapy; however, there is a paucity of data exploring the effect of long-term drug treatment on the CSC sub-population. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether long-term doxorubicin treatment could expand the neuroblastoma cells with CSC characteristics and histone acetylation could affect stemness gene expression during the development of drug resistance. Using n-myc amplified SK-N-Be(2)C and non-n-myc amplified SK-N-SH human neuroblastoma cells, our laboratory generated doxorubicin-resistant cell lines in parallel over 1 year; one cell line intermittently treated with the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) vorinostat and the other without exposure to HDACi. Cells' sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs, the ability to form tumorspheres, and capacity for in vitro invasion were examined. Cell-surface markers and side populations (SPs) were analyzed using flow cytometry. Differentially expressed stemness genes were identified through whole genome analysis and confirmed with real-time PCR. Our results indicated that vorinostat increased the sensitivity of only SK-N-Be(2)C-resistant cells to chemotherapy, made cells lose the ability to form tumorspheres, and reduced in vitro invasion and the SP percentage. CD133 was not enriched in doxorubicin-resistant or vorinostat-treated doxorubicin-resistant cells. Nine stemness-linked genes (ABCB1, ABCC4, LMO2, SOX2, ERCC5, S100A10, IGFBP3, TCF3, and VIM) were downregulated in vorinostat-treated doxorubicin-resistant SK-N-Be(2)C cells relative to doxorubicin-resistant cells. A sub-population of cells with CSC characteristics is enriched during prolonged drug selection of n-myc amplified SK-N-Be(2)C neuroblastoma cells. Vorinostat treatment affects the reversal of drug resistance in SK-N-Be(2)C cells and may be associated with downregulation of stemness gene expression. This work may be valuable for clinicians to design treatment protocols specific for different neuroblastoma patients.

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