Background: Intrinsic resistance to apoptotic cell death due to co-occurrence of mutated KRAS and p53 is frequently reported in pancreatic cancer that renders them aggressive, highly proliferative and metastatic. In addition, these cancer types are less sensitive to apoptosis inducing drugs where promotion of autophagic cell death could be a viable option for treatment under such circumstances.
Objective: In this study we examined the potential of three intrinsically fluorescent benzo[α]phenoxazines or BPZs (R=Cl, CH3, H) to induce cytotoxic autophagy in chemo and apoptosis-resistant, KRAS and p53 mutated pancreatic cancer model cell line, MIAPaCa-2.
Methods: Cells were adapted at in vitro metabolically stressed condition (5% serum) to initiate intrinsic cell survival strategies within. Cell proliferation, colonogenicity, cellular uptake, retention, localization, cellular granularity and presence of both apoptosis and autophagy biomarkers were assessed in BPZ treated/untreated (solvent) cells to validate induction of concentration dependent cytotoxic autophagy and other consequences.
Results: For the first time, we report the ability of this class of compounds to accumulate within cells increasing its granularity, inducing death via autophagy. From different kinetics study, it was observed that the autophagic-cell death was dependent on the ligand type, duration of incubation or working concentrations.
Conclusion: Among the three BPZ tested, both 3B (benzo[α]phenoxazine-5-one) and 2B (10-methyl-benzo[α] phenoxazine-5-one) induced pro-death autophagy in MIAPaCa-2 cells at an IC50 of 5 μM and 20 μM respectively. Such compounds would be of great interest to explore as novel cytotoxic autophagy inducing agents in apoptosisresistant cancer types.