Anti-tumor Effects of Penfluridol through Dysregulation of Cholesterol Homeostasis

  • Wu, Lu ;
  • Liu, Yan-Yang ;
  • Li, Zhi-Xi ;
  • Zhao, Qian ;
  • Wang, Xia ;
  • Yu, Yang ;
  • Wang, Yu-Yi ;
  • Wang, Yi-Qin ;
  • Luo, Feng
  • Published : 2014.01.15


Background: Psychiatric patients appear to be at lower risk of cancer. Some antipsychotic drugs might have inhibitory effects on tumor growth, including penfluridol, a strong agent. To test this, we conducted a study to determine whether penfluridol exerts cytotoxic effects on tumor cells and, if so, to explore its anti-tumor mechanisms. Methods: Growth inhibition of mouse cancer cell lines by penfluridol was determined using the 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Cytotoxic activity was determined by clonogenic cell survival and trypan blue assays. Animal tumor models of these cancer cells were established and to evaluate penfluridol for its anti-tumor efficacy in vivo. Unesterified cholesterol in cancer cells was examined by filipin staining. Serum total cholesterol and tumor total cholesterol were detected using the cholesterol oxidase/p-aminophenazone (CHOD-PAP) method. Results: Penfluridol inhibited the proliferation of B16 melanoma (B16/F10), LL/2 lung carcinoma (LL/2), CT26 colon carcinoma (CT26) and 4T1 breast cancer (4T1) cells in vitro. In vivo penfluridol was particularly effective at inhibiting LL/2 lung tumor growth, and obviously prolonged the survival time of mice bearing LL/2 lung tumors implanted subcutaneously. Accumulated unesterified cholesterol was found in all of the cancer cells treated with penfluridol, and this effect was most evident in LL/2, 4T1 and CT26 cells. No significant difference in serum cholesterol levels was found between the normal saline-treated mice and the penfluridol-treated mice. However, a dose-dependent decrease of total cholesterol in tumor tissues was observed in penfluridol-treated mice, which was most evident in B16/F10-, LL/2-, and 4T1-tumor-bearing mice. Conclusion: Our results suggested that penfluridol is not only cytotoxic to cancer cells in vitro but can also inhibit tumor growth in vivo. Dysregulation of cholesterol homeostasis by penfluridol may be involved in its anti-tumor mechanisms.


Antipsychotics drugs;penfluridol;anti-tumor effect;cholesterol


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