Transl Oncol. 2020 Sep 29;14(1):100876. doi: 10.1016/j.tranon.2020.100876. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Epirubicin is a first-line chemotherapeutic drug for the clinical treatment of diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), but the overexpression of multidrug resistance (MDR) transporter proteins, especially P-glycoprotein (P-gp), renders epirubicin ineffective. Some studies reveal the potential role of melatonin in chemotherapeutic synergy and MDR.
METHODS: The cell viability and apoptosis were determined by CCK-8 assay and acridine orange/ethidium bromide (AO/EB) fluorescence staining assay. Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemical staining were used to detect the expression of P-gp in DLBCL cells and tissues. Rhodamine-123 accumulation assay was used to evaluate the pump function of P-gp. The possible mechanisms of melatonin sensitize DLBCL cells to epirubicin were explored by western blotting, cytochrome C release, and pulldown assay.
RESULTS: Melatonin significantly enhanced the epirubicin-induced cell proliferation suppression, epirubicin-induced apoptosis, and reduced the IC50 value of epirubicin. Further, melatonin synergized with epirubicin to promote the activation of the mitochondria-mediated apoptosis pathway and increased the accumulation of epirubicin in DLBCL cells by inhibiting the expression and function of P-gp. Immunohistochemical staining studies revealed that P-gp expression was positively correlated with P65 expression. Epirubicin was subsequently discovered to upregulate the expression of P-gp by activating the NF-κB pathway in the DLBCL cells. Melatonin reduced the amount of P65 protein in the nucleus and abrogated the ability of P65 to bind to the ABCB1 promoter, decisively suppressing P-gp expression.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrated that melatonin inactivates the NF-κB pathway and downregulates the expression of P-gp, ultimately sensitizing DLBCL cells to the epirubicin that suppresses their growth.