Background and Objectives: Aldose Reductase (AR), a polyol pathway enzyme that mediates diabetic complications is implicated in tumour development and progression. This study was undertaken to determine whether gedunin, a neem limonoid prevents the hallmarks of cancer by inhibiting AR and the associated downstream PI3K/Akt/mTOR/ERK/NF-κB signalling axis in the SCC131 oral cancer cell line.
Methods: The expression of AR and key molecules involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis, autophagy, invasion and angiogenesis was analysed by qRT-PCR, and immunoblotting. ROS generation and cell cycle were analysed by FACS. Alamar blue assay and scratch assay were used to evaluate cell proliferation and migration in the endothelial cell line Eahy926.
Results: Gedunin and the AR inhibitor epalrestat inhibited AR expression and ROS generation. Cell cycle arrest at G1/S was associated with cell death by autophagy with subsequent switch over to apoptosis. Furthermore, hypoxia-induced cell migration was inhibited in Eahy926 cells with downregulation of pro-invasive and proangiogenic proteins in SCC131 as well as Eahy926 cells. Co-inactivation of Akt and ERK was coupled with abrogation of IKK/NF-κB signaling. However, the combination of gedunin and epalrestat was more effective than single agents.
Conclusion: Inhibition of AR-mediated ROS signalling may be a key mechanism by which gedunin and epalrestat exert their anticancer effects. Our results provide compelling evidence that the combination of gedunin and epalrestat modulates expression of key oncogenic signalling kinases and transcription factors primarily by influencing phosphorylation and subcellular localisation. AR inhibitors such as gedunin and epalrestat are novel candidate agents for cancer prevention and therapy.
Keywords: Akt, aldose reductase, gedunin, neem, nuclear factor kappa B, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase.
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