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      Leflunomide Inhibits Proliferation and Induces Apoptosis via Suppressing Autophagy and PI3K/Akt Signaling Pathway in Human Bladder Cancer Cells

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          Bladder cancer is a lethal human malignancy. Currently, treatment for bladder cancer is limited. The anti-tumor effects of leflunomide have attracted much more concern in multiple human cancers.

          Materials and Methods

          This study evaluated the anti-tumor effects of leflunomide on cell viability, colony formation, apoptosis, and cell cycle in two human bladder carcinoma cell lines, 5637 and T24. Meanwhile, the underlying mechanism including PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and autophagy modulation was also identified.

          Results

          Leflunomide markedly inhibited the growth of both bladder cancer cell lines and induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in S phase. The phosphorylation levels of Akt and P70S6K in both cell lines were significantly down-regulated with leflunomide treatment. Furthermore, the deceased formation of autophagosomes and the accumulation of LC3II and P62 suggested the blockade of autophagy by leflunomide. Modulation of autophagy with rapamycin and chloroquine markedly attenuated and enhanced the cytostatic effects of leflunomide, respectively.

          Conclusion

          Leflunomide significantly reduced the cell viability of bladder cancer cells via inducing apoptosis and cell cycle arrest and suppressing the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. In addition, the blockade of autophagy was observed, and autophagy inhibition enhanced leflunomide-mediating anti-tumor effects. Our data presented here offer novel ideas for comprehensive therapeutic regimes on bladder cancer.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Bladder cancer.

          Bladder cancer is a complex disease associated with high morbidity and mortality rates if not treated optimally. Awareness of haematuria as the major presenting symptom is paramount, and early diagnosis with individualised treatment and follow-up is the key to a successful outcome. For non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer, the mainstay of treatment is complete resection of the tumour followed by induction and maintenance immunotherapy with intravesical BCG vaccine or intravesical chemotherapy. For muscle-invasive bladder cancer, multimodal treatment involving radical cystectomy with neoadjuvant chemotherapy offers the best chance for cure. Selected patients with muscle-invasive tumours can be offered bladder-sparing trimodality treatment consisting of transurethral resection with chemoradiation. Advanced disease is best treated with systemic cisplatin-based chemotherapy; immunotherapy is emerging as a viable salvage treatment for patients in whom first-line chemotherapy cannot control the disease. Developments in the past 2 years have shed light on genetic subtypes of bladder cancer that might differ from one another in response to various treatments.
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            Leflunomide: mode of action in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

            Leflunomide is a selective inhibitor of de novo pyrimidine synthesis. In phase II and III clinical trials of active rheumatoid arthritis, leflunomide was shown to improve primary and secondary outcome measures with a satisfactory safety profile. The active metabolite of leflunomide, A77 1726, at low, therapeutically applicable doses, reversibly inhibits dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH), the rate limiting step in the de novo synthesis of pyrimidines. Unlike other cells, activated lymphocytes expand their pyrimidine pool by approximately eightfold during proliferation; purine pools are increased only twofold. To meet this demand, lymphocytes must use both salvage and de novo synthesis pathways. Thus the inhibition of DHODH by A77 1726 prevents lymphocytes from accumulating sufficient pyrimidines to support DNA synthesis. At higher doses, A77 1726 inhibits tyrosine kinases responsible for early T cell and B cell signalling in the G(0)/G(1) phase of the cell cycle. Because the immunoregulatory effects of A77 1726 occur at doses that inhibit DHODH but not tyrosine kinases, the interruption of de novo pyrimidine synthesis may be the primary mode of action. Recent evidence suggests that the observed anti-inflammatory effects of A77 1726 may relate to its ability to suppress interleukin 1 and tumour necrosis factor alpha selectively over their inhibitors in T lymphocyte/monocyte contact activation. A77 1726 has also been shown to suppress the activation of nuclear factor kappaB, a potent mediator of inflammation when stimulated by inflammatory agents. Continuing research indicates that A77 1726 may downregulate the glycosylation of adhesion molecules, effectively reducing cell-cell contact activation during inflammation.
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              Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitor A771726 (leflunomide) induces apoptosis and diminishes proliferation of multiple myeloma cells.

              Multiple myeloma is still an incurable disease; therefore, new therapeutics are urgently needed. A771726 is the active metabolite of the immunosuppressive drug leflunomide, which is currently applied in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, BK virus nephropathy, and cytomegaly viremia. Here, we show that dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is commonly expressed in multiple myeloma cell lines and primary multiple myeloma cells. The DHODH inhibitor A771726 inhibits cell growth in common myeloma cell lines at clinically achievable concentrations in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Annexin V-FITC/propidium iodide staining revealed induction of apoptosis of multiple myeloma cell lines and primary multiple myeloma cells. The 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine cell proliferation assay showed that inhibition of cell growth was partly due to inhibition of multiple myeloma cell proliferation. A771726 induced G(1) cell cycle arrest via modulation of cyclin D2 and pRb expression. A771726 decreased phosphorylation of protein kinase B (Akt), p70S6K, and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein-1 as shown by Western blotting experiments. Furthermore, we show that the stimulatory effect of conditioned medium of HS-5 bone marrow stromal cells on multiple myeloma cell growth is completely abrogated by A771726. In addition, synergism studies revealed synergistic and additive activity of A771726 together with the genotoxic agents melphalan, treosulfan, and doxorubicin as well as with dexamethasone and bortezomib. Taken together, we show that inhibition of DHODH by A771726/leflunomide is effective in multiple myeloma. Considering the favorable toxicity profile and the great clinical experience with leflunomide in rheumatoid arthritis, this drug represents a potential new candidate for targeted therapy in multiple myeloma.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                DDDT
                dddt
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove
                1177-8881
                18 May 2020
                2020
                : 14
                : 1897-1908
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Urology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Yijishan Hospital of Wannan Medical College , Wuhu, Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Department of Geriatrics, Peking University First Hospital , Beijing, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]Department of Urology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University , Hefei, Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China
                [4 ]Department of Urology, Peking University First Hospital , Beijing, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Li Cheng Email chenglibjmu@163.com
                [*]

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                Article
                252626
                10.2147/DDDT.S252626
                7244359
                32546957
                © 2020 Cheng et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 8, References: 32, Pages: 12
                Funding
                Funded by: National Natural Science Foundation of China 10.13039/501100001809
                This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81670617).
                Categories
                Original Research

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