Synergistic inhibition of mitochondrial respiration by anticancer agent erucylphosphohomocholine and cyclosporin A.

Research paper by Victor V VV Lemeshko, Wilfried W Kugler

Indexed on: 13 Nov '07Published on: 13 Nov '07Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry


Alkylphosphocholines are a new class of anticancer agents. The mechanisms by which these drugs display their antitumor activities are not known. In this work, we show that erucylphosphohomocholine, a new antineoplastic compound, significantly decreased ATP synthesis in isolated rat liver mitochondria at a concentration of 50 microm or higher via permeabilization of the inner membrane. At a concentration of 25 microm, it induced a moderate swelling of mitochondria, a slight decrease of the inner membrane potential, and an increase in state 4 respiration without an essential influence on state 3 respiration or the outer membrane permeability to cytochrome c. We found that cyclosporin A did not prevent mitochondrial swelling induced by 25-100 microm erucylphosphohomocholine. Moreover, cyclosporin A induced a fast drop of the inner membrane potential in the presence of 25-50 microm erucylphosphohomocholine that seems to be due to a strong synergistic inhibition of the respiratory activity. The ratio of uncoupled to state 3 respiration rates increased from 1.3 +/- 0.1 with 25 microm erucylphosphohomocholine and from 1.5 +/- 0.1 with 1 microm cyclosporin A to 4.5 +/- 0.3 in the presence of both drugs. On the other hand, oligomycin or cyclosporin A protected certain cancer cell lines against erucylphosphohomocholine-induced apoptosis. This protection might be related to a prevention of cellular ATP hydrolysis by permeabilized mitochondria and to the inhibition of the classical permeability transition pore, respectively. Our findings provide new insight into the mechanisms by which these unusual alterations of mitochondria might be involved in anticancer activity of alkylphosphocholines.