2-Cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-imidazolide (CDDO-Im) directly targets mitochondrial glutathione to induce apoptosis in pancreatic cancer

Ismael Samudio, Marina Konopleva, Numsen Hail, Yue Xi Shi, Teresa McQueen, Timothy Hsu, Randall Evans, Tadashi Honda, Gordon W. Gribble, Michael Sporn, Hiram F. Gilbert, Stephen Safe, Michael Andreeff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Surgical resection is the only curative strategy for pancreatic cancer (PC). Unfortunately, >80% of pancreatic cancer patients bear inoperable, locally advanced, chemoresistant tumors demonstrating the urgent need for development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat this disease. Here we report that the synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12 dioxooleana-1,9 dien-28-imidazolide (CDDO-Im) antagonizes PC cell growth by inducing apoptosis at submicromolar concentrations. Notably, we demonstrate for the first time that the cytotoxicity of CDDO-Im is accompanied by the rapid and selective depletion of mitochondrial glutathione that results in accumulation of reactive oxygen species, oxidation of the cellular glutathione pool, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and phosphatidylserine externalization. The parent compound CDDO as well as the methyl ester of CDDO also depleted mitochondrial glutathione, demonstrating that this effect is mediated by the triterpenoid nucleus of these agents. Cotreatment with sulfhydryl nucleophiles completely prevented apoptosis and loss of viability induced by CDDO-Im, whereas alkylation of intracellular thiols by diethylmaleate or cotreatment with dithiothreitol decreased the accumulation of a biotinylated derivative of CDDO, TP-301, in PC cells, suggesting that intracellular reduced thiols are functional targets of the electrophilic triterpenoid nucleus of CDDO and its deriatives. In conclusion, our report is the first to identify mitochondrial glutathione as a target of CDDO and its derivatives and demonstrates that depletion of this antioxidant in the mitochondria is an effective strategy to induce cell death in PC cells. These results suggest that CDDO and its derivatives may offer a clinical benefit for the treatment of PC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36273-36282
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 28 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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