Research Papers:

Two hits are better than one: synergistic anticancer activity of α-helical peptides and doxorubicin/epirubicin

Jing Zhao _, Yibing Huang, Dong Liu and Yuxin Chen

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:1769-1778. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2754

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Jing Zhao1,3, Yibing Huang1,2,3, Dong Liu1,3, Yuxin Chen1,2,3

1Key Laboratory for Molecular Enzymology and Engineering of the Ministry of Education, Jilin University, Changchun, China

2National Engineering Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine, Jilin University, Changchun, China

3School of Life Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun, China

Correspondence to:

Yuxin Chen, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: Anticancer peptides, doxorubicin/epirubicin, synergy, mechanism of action, xenograft model

Received: September 17, 2014     Accepted: November 15, 2014     Published: December 19, 2014


This study explored combinational anticancer therapy using α-helical peptides HPRP-A1/HPRP-A2 with the chemical drugs doxorubicin (DOX) and epirubicin (EPI). The in vitro activity of these drugs against different cancer cell lines was synergistically increased, as was their activity in a HeLa xenograft model in BALB/c nude mice. We delineated the mechanism of this synergy by studying the apoptosis pathway and morphologic changes in the HeLa cell membrane. The mechanism of the HPRP-A1/DOX combination was found to involve enhanced apoptosis, which seemed to be caspase-dependent and involved both the extrinsic and intrinsic parts of the caspase cascade in HeLa cells. Combined application of HPRP-A1 and DOX at low concentrations was significantly more effective than either drug alone against HeLa tumors in the mouse xenograft model. This type of combination therapy appears to have great clinical potential.

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