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Clusterin: a key player in cancer chemoresistance and its inhibition

Authors Koltai T

Received 3 December 2013

Accepted for publication 17 January 2014

Published 20 March 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 447—456


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 7

Tomas Koltai

Gerencia de Efectores Sanitarios Propios, Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social para Jubilados y Pensionados, Buenos Aires, República Argentina

Abstract: Clusterin is a heterodimeric disulfide-linked glycoprotein (449 amino acids) isolated in the rat prostate after castration. It is widely distributed in different tissues and highly conserved in species. There are two isoforms (1 and 2) with antagonistic actions regarding apoptosis. Clusterin is implicated in a number of biological processes, including lipid transport, membrane recycling, cell adhesion, programmed cell death, and complement cascade, representing a truly multifunctional protein. Isoform 2 is overexpressed under cellular stress conditions and protects cells from apoptosis by impeding Bax actions on the mitochondrial membrane and exerts other protumor activities, like phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B pathway activation, modulation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 signaling and matrix metallopeptidase-9 expression, increased angiogenesis, modulation of the nuclear factor kappa B pathway, among others. Its overexpression should be considered as a nonspecific cellular response to a wide variety of tissue insults like cytotoxic chemotherapy, radiation, excess of free oxygen radicals, androgen or estrogen deprivation, etc. A review of the recent literature strongly suggests potential roles for custirsen in particular, and proapoptosis treatments in general, as novel modalities in cancer management. Inhibition of clusterin is known to increase the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapeutic agents, and custirsen, a second-generation antisense oligonucleotide that blocks clusterin, is being tested in a Phase III clinical trial after successful results were achieved in Phase II studies. A major issue in cancer evolution that remains unanswered is whether clusterin represents a driving force of tumorigenesis or a late phenomenon after chemotherapy. This review presents preclinical data that encourages trials in various types of cancer other than advanced castration-resistance prostate cancer and discusses briefly the appropriate timing for clusterin inhibition in the clinical context.

Keywords: custirsen, apoptosis, renal cell carcinoma, triple negative breast cancer, castration-resistance prostate cancer

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