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Cancers 2011, 3(2), 2274-2285; doi:10.3390/cancers3022274

Tetrandrine, a Compound Common in Chinese Traditional Medicine, Preferentially Kills Breast Cancer Tumor Initiating Cells (TICs) In Vitro

Division of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 January 2011 / Revised: 12 April 2011 / Accepted: 15 April 2011 / Published: 4 May 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Stem Cells)
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Tetrandrine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid found in Stephania tetrandra, a Chinese medicine commonly used as an anti-inflammatory. It has extensive pharmacological activity, including positive ion channel blockade and inhibition of multiple drug resistance proteins. These activities are very similar to that of salinomycin, a known drug targeting breast cancer initiation cells (TICs). Herein, we tested tetrandrine targeting of breast cancer TICs. SUM-149, an inflammatory breast cancer cell line and SUM-159, a non-inflammatory metaplastic breast cancer cell line were used in these studies. In proliferation assays using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium (MTS), we found that the IC50 for inhibition of proliferation is 15.3 ± 4.1 µM for SUM-149 and 24.3 ± 2.1 µM for SUM-159 cells. Tetrandrine also inhibited mammosphere formation, a surrogate for breast cancer TICs growth in vitro with IC50 around 1 µM for SUM-149 and around 2 µM for SUM-159 cells. Tetrandrine has similar effects on the mammosphere formation from cells isolated from fresh patient sample. Moreover, tetrandrine decreases the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) positive population in SUM-159 by 45% ± 5.45% P = 0.005. In summary, tetrandrine demonstrates significant efficacy against in vitro surrogates for inflammatory and aggressive breast cancer TICs. View Full-Text
Keywords: breast cancer; tetrandrine; cancer stem cells; tumor-initiating cells breast cancer; tetrandrine; cancer stem cells; tumor-initiating cells

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Xu, W.; Debeb, B.G.; Lacerda, L.; Li, J.; Woodward, W.A. Tetrandrine, a Compound Common in Chinese Traditional Medicine, Preferentially Kills Breast Cancer Tumor Initiating Cells (TICs) In Vitro. Cancers 2011, 3, 2274-2285.

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