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      JS-K, a nitric oxide-releasing prodrug, induces breast cancer cell death while sparing normal mammary epithelial cells.

      International Journal of Oncology

      Up-Regulation, Antineoplastic Agents, pharmacology, Prodrugs, Piperazines, metabolism, Nitric Oxide, Microtubule-Associated Proteins, pathology, drug effects, Mammary Glands, Human, Humans, Heme Oxygenase-1, Female, Cell Survival, Cell Line, Tumor, Breast Neoplasms, Azo Compounds, Apoptosis

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          Targeted therapy with reduced side effects is a major goal in cancer research. We investigated the effects of JS-K, a nitric oxide (NO) prodrug designed to release high levels of NO when suitably activated, on human breast cancer cell lines, on non-transformed human MCF-10A mammary cells, and on normal human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs). Cell viability assay, flow cytometry, electron microscopy, and Western blot analysis were used to study the effects of JS-K on breast cancer and on mammary epithelial cells. After a 3-day incubation, the IC50s of JS-K against the breast cancer cells ranged from 0.8 to 3 µM. However, JS-K decreased the viability of the MCF-10A cells by only 20% at 10-µM concentration, and HMECs were unaffected by 10 µM JS-K. Flow cytometry indicated that JS-K increased the percentages of breast cancer cells under-going apoptosis. Interestingly, flow cytometry indicated that JS-K increased acidic vesicle organelle formation in breast cancer cells, suggesting that JS-K induced autophagy in breast cancer cells. Electron microscopy confirmed that JS-K-treated breast cancer cells underwent autophagic cell death. Western blot analysis showed that JS-K induced the expression of microtubule light chain 3-II, another autophagy marker, in breast cancer cells. However, JS-K did not induce apoptosis or autophagy in normal human mammary epithelial cells. These data indicate that JS-K selectively induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells while sparing normal mammary epithelial cells under the same conditions. The selective anti-tumor activity of JS-K warrants its further investigation in breast tumors.

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