Effect of Selenite Combined with Chemotherapeutic Agents on the Proliferation of Human Carcinoma Cell Lines

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Selenite is frequently used in combination with cancer chemotherapeutic agents to reduce side effects. However, the cytoprotective activity of selenite may also reduce the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs on tumor cells. This study was designed to examine the effects of selenite combined with cytotoxic agents used in clinical protocols [e.g., doxorubicine, docetaxel, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), methotrexate (MTX), mafosphamide, mitomycin C, gemcitabine, etoposide, cisplatin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin] on the proliferation of various carcinoma cell types. The data demonstrated that selenite had no marked effects on the antiproliferative activity of docetaxel, doxorubicine, 5-FU, MTX, and mafosphamide in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Likewise, no consistent changes were observed in A549 lung cancer cell proliferation when selenite was combined with cisplatin, etoposide, gemcitabine, or mitomycin C. On the other hand, selenite potentiated the cytotoxicity of 5-FU, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan in HCT116 colon cancer cells by approx 1.1-fold, 2.7-fold, and 2.6-fold, respectively. In SW620 colon cancer cells, selenite induced a 1.5-fold and 4.3-fold increase of the antiproliferative activity of 5-FU and oxaliplatin, respectively. Whereas irinotecan showed no effects on SW620 cell growth, a combination with selenite resulted in 23% inhibition. Our results indicate that selenite did not reduce the antiproliferative activity of chemotherapeutic agents in vitro. In addition, selenite was able to increase the inhibitory activity of docetaxel in A549 lung cancer cells, and of 5-FU, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan in HCT116 and SW620 colon cancer cells implying selenite is potentially useful as an adjuvant chemotherapeutic agent.

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