Piperlongumine selectively kills cancer cells and increases cisplatin antitumor activity in head and neck cancer.

Oncotarget

PubMedID: 25193861

Roh JL, Kim EH, Park JY, Kim JW, Kwon M, Lee BH. Piperlongumine selectively kills cancer cells and increases cisplatin antitumor activity in head and neck cancer. Oncotarget. 2014;5(19):9227-38.
Adaptation to cellular stress is not a vital function of normal cells but is required of cancer cells, and as such might be a sensible target in cancer therapy. Piperlongumine is a naturally occurring small molecule selectively toxic to cancer cells. This study assesses the cytotoxicity of piperlongumine and its combination with cisplatin in head-and-neck cancer (HNC) cells in vitro and in vivo. The effect of piperlongumine, alone and in combination with cisplatin, was assessed in human HNC cells and normal cells by measuring growth, death, cell cycle progression, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and protein expression, and in tumor xenograft mouse models. Piperlongumine killed HNC cells regardless of p53 mutational status but spared normal cells. It increased ROS accumulation in HNC cells, an effect that can be blocked by the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine. Piperlongumine induced selective cell death in HNC cells by targeting the stress response to ROS, leading to the induction of death pathways involving JNK and PARP. Piperlongumine increased cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity in HNC cells in a synergistic manner in vitro and in vivo. Piperlongumine might be a promising small molecule with which to selectively kill HNC cells and increase cisplatin antitumor activity by targeting the oxidative stress response.