Redox Biol 2017 10 9;13:608-622. Epub 2017 Aug 9.
Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Keimyung University, 2800 Dalgubeoldaero, Dalseo-Gu, Daegu 704-701, South Korea. Electronic address:
Thioridazine is known to have anti-tumor effects by inhibiting PI3K/Akt signaling, which is an important signaling pathway in cell survival. However, thioridazine alone does not induce apoptosis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (AMC-HN4), human breast carcinoma (MDA-MB231), and human glioma (U87MG) cells. Therefore, we investigated whether combined treatment with thioridazine and curcumin induces apoptosis. Combined treatment with thioridazine and curcumin markedly induced apoptosis in cancer cells without inducing apoptosis in human normal mesangial cells and human normal umbilical vein cells (EA.hy926). We found that combined treatment with thioridazine and curcumin had synergistic effects in AMC-HN4 cells. Among apoptosis-related proteins, thioridazine plus curcumin induced down-regulation of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 expression at the post-translational levels in a proteasome-dependent manner. Augmentation of proteasome activity was related to the up-regulation of proteasome subunit alpha 5 (PSMA5) expression in curcumin plus thioridazine-treated cells. Combined treatment with curcumin and thioridazine produced intracellular ROS in a NOX4-dependent manner, and ROS-mediated activation of Nrf2/ARE signaling played a critical role in the up-regulation of PSMA5 expression. Furthermore, ectopic expression of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 inhibited apoptosis in thioridazine and curcumin-treated cells. Therefore, we demonstrated that thioridazine plus curcumin induces proteasome activity by up-regulating PSMA5 expression via NOX4-mediated ROS production and that down-regulation of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 expression post-translationally is involved in apoptosis.