Nifurtimox Is Effective Against Neural Tumor Cells and Is Synergistic with Buthionine Sulfoximine

Michael Du, Linna Zhang, Kathleen A. Scorsone, Sarah E. Woodfield, Peter Zage

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18 Scopus citations


Children with aggressive neural tumors have poor survival rates and novel therapies are needed. Previous studies have identified nifurtimox and buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) as effective agents in children with neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma. We hypothesized that nifurtimox would be effective against other neural tumor cells and would be synergistic with BSO. We determined neural tumor cell viability before and after treatment with nifurtimox using MTT assays. Assays for DNA ladder formation and poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage were performed to measure the induction of apoptosis after nifurtimox treatment. Inhibition of intracellular signaling was measured by Western blot analysis of treated and untreated cells. Tumor cells were then treated with combinations of nifurtimox and BSO and evaluated for viability using MTT assays. All neural tumor cell lines were sensitive to nifurtimox, and IC50 values ranged from approximately 20 to 210 μM. Nifurtimox treatment inhibited ERK phosphorylation and induced apoptosis in tumor cells. Furthermore, the combination of nifurtimox and BSO demonstrated significant synergistic efficacy in all tested cell lines. Additional preclinical and clinical studies of the combination of nifurtimox and BSO in patients with neural tumors are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27458
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - Jun 10 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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