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Metformin induces apoptotic cytotoxicity depending on AMPK/PKA/GSK-3β-mediated c-FLIPL degradation in non-small cell lung cancer

Authors Luo Z, Zhu T, Luo W, Lv Y, Zhang L, Wang C, Li M, Wu W, Shi S

Received 5 July 2018

Accepted for publication 3 December 2018

Published 11 January 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 681—689

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S178688

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Ahmet Emre Eskazan


Zhuang Luo,1,* Tingting Zhu,2,* Wei Luo,3,* Yuanyuan Lv,1 Liyan Zhang,1 Chu Wang,1 Min Li,1 Wenjuan Wu,4 Shaoqing Shi1

1Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University, Kunming, Yunnan 650032, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Dermatology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215006, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Respiratory Medicine, The People’s Hospital of Leshan, Leshan, Sichuan 640000, People’s Republic of China; 4Department of Dermatology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University, Kunming, Yunnan 650032, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Metformin, a first-line antidiabetic drug, has recently been reported with anticancer activities in various cancers; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of cellular FADD-like IL-1β-converting enzyme (FLICE)-inhibitory protein large (c-FLIPL) in metformin-induced anticancer activity in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in vitro.
Materials and methods: Cell viability was measured by MTT assay. Quantitative real-time PCR was carried out to detect the level of mRNA of related genes. The expression of related proteins was detected by Western blot. siRNA was used to silence the expression of targeted proteins.
Results: Metformin significantly suppressed proliferation of both A549 and H460 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Mechanistic studies suggested that metformin killed NSCLC cells by inducing apoptotic cell death. Moreover, metformin greatly inhibited c-FLIPL expression and then promoted its degradation. Furthermore, metformin significantly activated Adenosine 5′-monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and its downstream glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK-3β), block the expression of AMPK, and GSK-3β with siRNA partially reversed metformin-induced cytotoxicity and restored the expression of c-FLIPL in lung cancer cells. Metformin also suppressed the activity of AMPK downstream protein kinase A (PKA), PKA activators, both 8-Br-cAMP and forskolin, greatly increased c-FLIPL expression in NSCLC cells.
Conclusion: This study provided evidence that metformin killed NSCLC cells through AMPK/PKA/GSK-3β axis-mediated c-FLIPL degradation.

Keywords: non-small cell lung cancer, c-FLIPL, AMPK, GSK-3β, PKA

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