Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Radiation therapy is used for treating almost every stage of breast cancer. A strategy to reduce irradiation side effects and to decrease the recurrence of cancer is concurrent use of radiation and radiosensitizers. We studied the effect of the antimanic drug lithium on radiosensitivity of estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive MCF-7 and ER-negative, invasive, and radioresistant MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines.
Methods: MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines were treated with 30 mM and 20 mM concentrations of lithium chloride (LiCl), respectively. These concentrations were determined by MTT viability assay. Growth curves were depicted and comet assay was performed for control and LiCl-treated cells after exposure to X-ray. Total and phosphorylated inactive levels of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3β) protein were determined by ELISA assay for control and treated cells.
Results: Treatment with LiCl decreased cell proliferation after exposure to X-ray as indicated by growth curves of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines within six days following radiation. Such treatment increased the amount of DNA damages represented by percent DNA in Tails of comets at 0, 1, 4, and even 24 hours after radiation in both studied cell lines. The amount of active GSK-3β was increased in LiCl-treated cells in ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancer cell lines.
Conclusion: Treatment with LiCl that increased the active GSK-3β protein, increased DNA damages and decreased survival independent of estrogen receptor status in breast cancer cells exposed to ionizing radiation.
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