Astaxanthin down-regulates Rad51 expression via inactivation of AKT kinase to enhance mitomycin C-induced cytotoxicity in human non-small cell lung cancer cells.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2016 Apr 1 ;105:91-100. Epub 2016 Feb 24. PMID: 26921637
Astaxanthin has been demonstrated to exhibit a wide range of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. However, the molecular mechanism of astaxanthin-induced cytotoxicity in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells has not been identified. Rad51 plays a central role in homologous recombination, and studies show that chemo-resistant carcinomas exhibit high levels of Rad51 expression. In this study, astaxanthin treatment inhibited cell viability and proliferation of two NSCLC cells, A549 and H1703. Astaxanthin treatment (2.5-20μM) decreased Rad51 expression and phospho-AKT(Ser473) protein level in a time and dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, expression of constitutively active AKT (AKT-CA) vector rescued the decreased Rad51 mRNA and protein levels in astaxanthin-treated NSCLC cells. Combined treatment with phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors (LY294002 or wortmannin) further decreased the Rad51 expression in astaxanthin-exposed A549 and H1703 cells. Knockdown of Rad51 expression by transfection with si-Rad51 RNA or cotreatment with LY294002 further enhanced the cytotoxicity and cell growth inhibition of astaxanthin. Additionally, mitomycin C (MMC) as an anti-tumor antibiotic is widely used in clinical NSCLC chemotherapy. Combination of MMC and astaxanthin synergistically resulted in cytotoxicity and cell growth inhibition in NSCLC cells, accompanied with reduced phospho-AKT(Ser473) level and Rad51 expression. Overexpression of AKT-CA or Flag-tagged Rad51 reversed the astaxanthin and MMC-induced synergistic cytotoxicity. In contrast, pretreatment with LY294002 further decreased the cell viability in astaxanthin and MMC co-treated cells. In conclusion, astaxanthin enhances MMC-induced cytotoxicity by decreasing Rad51 expression and AKT activation. These findings may provide rationale to combine astaxanthin with MMC for the treatment of NSCLC.