Tamoxifen Induces Cytotoxic Autophagy in Glioblastoma

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Abstract

Glioblastomas (GBMs) are the most common and aggressive primary human malignant brain tumors. 4-Hydroxy tamoxifen (OHT) is an active metabolite of the tamoxifen (TMX) prodrug and a well-established estrogen receptor (ER) and estrogen-related receptor antagonist. A recent study from our laboratory demonstrated that OHT induced ER-independent malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) cell death by autophagic degradation of the prosurvival protein Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog. Because both MPNST and GBM are glial in cell origin, we hypothesized that OHT could mediate similar effects in GBM. OHT induced a concentration-dependent reduction in cell viability that was largely independent of caspase activation in a human GBM cell line and 2 patient-derived xenolines. Further, OHT induced both cytotoxic autophagy and a concentration-dependent decrease in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein levels. A GBM cell line expressing EGFR variant III (EGFRvIII) was relatively resistant to OHT-induced death and EGFRvIII was refractory to OHT-induced degradation. Thus, OHT induces GBM cell death through a caspase-independent, autophagy-related mechanism and should be considered as a potential therapeutic agent in patients with GBM whose tumors express wild-type EGFR.

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