Combinatorial effect of plk1 inhibition with temozolomide and radiation in glioblastoma

Arvind Pandey, Satyendra C. Tripathi, Junhua Mai, Samir M. Hanash, Haifa Shen, Sankar Mitra, Robert C. Rostomily

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


New strategies that improve median survivals of only ~15–20 months for glioblastoma (GBM) with the current standard of care (SOC) which is concurrent temozolomide (TMZ) and radiation (XRT) treatment are urgently needed. Inhibition of polo‐like kinase 1 (PLK1), a multifunctional cell cycle regulator, overexpressed in GBM has shown therapeutic promise but has never been tested in the context of SOC. Therefore, we examined the mechanistic and therapeutic impact of PLK1 specific inhibitor (volasertib) alone and in combination with TMZ and/or XRT on GBM cells. We quantified the effects of volasertib alone and in combination with TMZ and/or XRT on GBM cell cytotoxicity/apoptosis, mitochondrial membrane potential (MtMP), reactive oxygen species (ROS), cell cycle, stemness, DNA damage, DNA repair genes, cellular signaling and in‐vivo tumor growth. Volasertib alone and in combination with TMZ and/or XRT promoted apoptotic cell death, altered MtMP, increased ROS and G2/M cell cycle arrest. Combined volasertib and TMZ treatment reduced side population (SP) indicating activity against GBM stem‐like cells. Volasertib combinatorial treatment also significantly increased DNA damage and reduced cell survival by inhibition of DNA repair gene expression and modulation of ERK/MAPK, AMPK and glucocorticoid receptor signal-ing. Finally, as observed in‐vitro, combined volasertib and TMZ treatment resulted in synergistic inhibition of tumor growth in‐vivo. Together these results identify new mechanisms of action for volasertib that provide a strong rationale for further investigation of PLK1 inhibition as an adjunct to current GBM SOC therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5114
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 12 2021


  • Glioblastoma
  • PLK1 inhibitor
  • Radiation
  • Side population
  • Temozolomide
  • Volasertib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Combinatorial effect of plk1 inhibition with temozolomide and radiation in glioblastoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this