PI3K Inhibition Enhances Doxorubicin-Induced Apoptosis in Sarcoma Cells
We searched for a drug capable of sensitization of sarcoma cells to doxorubicin (DOX). We report that the dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor PI103 enhances the efficacy of DOX in several sarcoma cell lines and interacts with DOX in the induction of apoptosis. PI103 decreased the expression of MDR1 and MRP1, which resulted in DOX accumulation. However, the enhancement of DOX-induced apoptosis was unrelated to DOX accumulation. Neither did it involve inhibition of mTOR. Instead, the combination treatment of DOX plus PI103 activated Bax, the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway, and caspase 3. Caspase 3 activation was also observed in xenografts of sarcoma cells in nude mice upon combination of DOX with the specific PI3K inhibitor GDC-0941. Although the increase in apoptosis did not further impact on tumor growth when compared to the efficient growth inhibition by GDC-0941 alone, these findings suggest that inhibition of PI3K may improve DOX-induced proapoptotic effects in sarcoma. Taken together with similar recent studies of neuroblastoma- and glioblastoma-derived cells, PI3K inhibition seems to be a more general option to sensitize tumor cells to anthracyclines.