Author(s): Berdelle N, Nikolova T, Quiros S, Efferth T, Kaina B
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Abstract Artesunate, the active agent from Artemisia annua L. used in the traditional Chinese medicine, is being applied as a first-line drug for malaria treatment, and trials are ongoing that include this drug in cancer therapy. Despite increasing interest in its therapeutic application, the mode of cell killing provoked by artesunate in human cells is unknown. Here, we show that artesunate is a powerful inducer of oxidative DNA damage, giving rise to formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase-sensitive sites and the formation of 8-oxoguanine and 1,N6-ethenoadenine. Oxidative DNA damage was induced in LN-229 human glioblastoma cells dose dependently and was paralleled by cell death executed by apoptosis and necrosis, which could be attenuated by radical scavengers such as N-acetyl cysteine. Oxidative DNA damage resulted in DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) as determined by γH2AX foci that colocalized with 53BP1. Upon chronic treatment with artesunate, the level of DSB continuously increased over the treatment period up to a steady-state level, which is in contrast to ionizing radiation that induced a burst of DSB followed by a decline due to their repair. Knockdown of Rad51 by short interfering RNA and inactivation of DNA-PK strongly sensitized glioma cells to artesunate. These data indicate that both homologous recombination and nonhomologous end joining are involved in the repair of artesunate-induced DSB. Artesunate provoked a DNA damage response (DDR) with phosphorylation of ATM, ATR, Chk1, and Chk2. Overall, these data revealed that artesunate induces oxidative DNA lesions and DSB that continuously increase during the treatment period and accumulate until they trigger DDR and finally tumor cell death.
This article was published in Mol Cancer Ther
and referenced in Malaria Control & Elimination