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Non-competitive heme oxygenase-1 activity inhibitor reduces non-small cell lung cancer glutathione content and regulates cell proliferation

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Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains the leading cause of cancer-related death mainly due to its high metastatic rate. Impairment of redox homeostasis mechanisms has been previously described in NSCLC and is associated with the disease itself as well as with comorbidities such as smoking. The aim of the present in vitro study was to evaluate the effect of selective and non-competitive inhibition of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) on cancer redox homeostasis with particular regards to glutathione (GSH) metabolism related enzymes. NSCLC cell line (A549) was treated with the HO-1 activity inhibitor VP13/47 (10 µM) and we further evaluated cell viability, apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. Our results showed that VP13/47 significantly reduced HO-1 expression and total HO activity thus, resulting in a significant reduction of cell viability, proliferation and increased apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. Consistently with increased oxidative stress, we also showed that reduced GSH was significantly decreased and such effect was also accompanied by a significant downregulation of the enzymes involved in its biosynthesis. Taken all together our results show that selective HO-1 inhibition significantly impairs NSCLC progression and may represent a possible pharmacological strategy for new chemotherapy agents.

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This work was supported by Grants from the University of Catania (FIR 2016–2018).

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Correspondence to Giovanni Li Volti.

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Spampinato, M., Sferrazzo, G., Pittalà, V. et al. Non-competitive heme oxygenase-1 activity inhibitor reduces non-small cell lung cancer glutathione content and regulates cell proliferation. Mol Biol Rep (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11033-020-05292-y

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  • Glutathione
  • Lung cancer
  • Heme oxygenase
  • Oxidative stress