Jang JH, et al. Anticancer Drugs 2020.
Bladder cancer (BC) is the sixth most common cancer in men. Moreover, chemotherapy for BC leads to various side effects. Metformin is known to induce apoptosis in vitro in many types of cancer. Furthermore, it has feasibility as a drug repositioning used for the treatment of cancer. The molecular mechanism of metformin mediating apoptosis in BC is still unclear. In this study, we showed that metformin stimulated the caspase-dependent apoptotic signaling pathway in T24 cells, a human BC cell
line. Moreover, the induced apoptosis was partially inhibited by a general caspase inhibitor, z-VAD-fmk, which suggested that metformin-induced apoptosis in T24 cells is partially caspase-independent. Notably, we observed the nuclear translocation of apoptosis-inducing factors (AIFs) in metformin-promoted apoptosis, which is a typical characteristic of the caspase-independent apoptotic pathway. In addition, we found that metformin-mediated apoptosis occurred via degradation of the cellular FADD-like interleukin-1β-converting enzyme inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) by facilitating ubiquitin/proteasome-mediated c-FLIPL degradation. Furthermore, treatment with the reactive oxygen species scavenger N-acetylcysteine, failed to suppress metformin-induced apoptosis and c-FLIPL protein degradation in metformin-treated T24 cells. In conclusion, these results indicate that metformin-induced apoptosis was mediated through AIF-promoted caspase-independent pathways as well as caspase-dependent pathways in T24 cells. As such, metformin could be used as a possible apoptotic agent for the treatment of BC.