Molecular Simulations Identify Target Receptor Kinases Bound by Astaxanthin to Induce Breast Cancer Cell Apoptosis

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Mossa Gardaneh
Zahra Nayeri
Parvin Akbari
Mahsa Gardaneh
Hasan Tahermansouri


Breast cancer, Astaxanthin, Apoptosis, Receptor tyrosine kinase


Background: We investigated molecular mechanisms behind astaxanthinmediated induction of apoptosis in breast cancer cell lines toward combination therapy against cancer drug resistance.

Methods: Breast cancer cell lines were treated with serial concentrations of astaxanthin to determine its IC50. We used drug-design software to predict interactions between astaxanthin and receptor tyrosine kinases or other key gene products involved in intracellular signaling pathways. Changes in gene expression were examined using RT-PCR. The effect of astaxanthin-nanocarbons combinations on cancer cells was also evaluated.

Results: Astaxanthin induced cell death in all three breast cancer cell lines was examined so that its IC50 in two HER2-amplifying lines SKBR3 and BT-474 stood, respectively, at 36 and 37 ?M; however, this figure for MCF-7 was significantly lowered to 23 ?M (P<0.05). Astaxanthin-treated SKBR3 cells showed apoptotic death upon co-staining. Our in silico examinations showed that some growth-promoting molecules are strongly bound by astaxanthin via their specific amino acid residues with their binding energy standing below -6 KCa/Mol. Next, astaxanthin was combined with either graphene oxide or carboxylated multi-walled carbon nanotube, with the latter affecting SKBR cell survival more extensively than the former (P<0.05). Finally, astaxanthin coinduced tumor suppressors p53 and PTEN but downregulated the expression of growth-inducing genes in treated cells.

Conclusion: These findings indicate astaxanthin carries' multitarget antitumorigenic capacities and introduce the compound as a suitable candidate for combination therapy regimens against cancer growth and drug resistance. Development of animal models to elucidate interactions between the compound and tumor microenvironment could be a major step forward towards the inclusion of astaxanthin in cancer therapy trials.

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