The autophagy inhibitor chloroquine targets cancer stem cells in triple negative breast cancer by inducing mitochondrial damage and impairing DNA break repair

Diana H. Liang, Dong Soon Choi, Joe Edward Ensor, Jr., Benny A. Kaipparettu, Barbara L. Bass, Jenny C. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), characterized by an abundance of treatment-resistant breast cancer stem cells (CSCs), has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancers. Despite its aggressiveness, no effective targeted therapy exists for TNBC. Here, we demonstrate that CQ effectively targets CSCs via autophagy inhibition, mitochondrial structural damage, and impairment of double-stranded DNA break repair. Electron microscopy demonstrates CQ-induced mitochondrial cristae damage, which leads to mitochondrial membrane depolarization with a significant reduction in the activity of cytochrome c oxidase and accumulation of superoxide and double-stranded DNA breaks. CQ effectively diminishes the TNBC cells' ability to metastasize in vitro and in a TNBC xenograft model. When administered in combination with carboplatin, CQ effectively inhibits carboplatin-induced autophagy. This combination treatment significantly diminishes the expression of DNA repair proteins in CSC subpopulations, resulting in tumor growth reduction in carboplatin-resistant BRCA1 wild-type TNBC orthotopic xenografts. As TNBC's high treatment failure rate has been attributed to enrichment of CSCs, CQ, an autophagy inhibitor with anti-CSC effects, may be an effective adjunct to current TNBC chemotherapy regimens with carboplatin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Letters
Volume376
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Keywords

  • Breast cancer stem cells
  • Chloroquine
  • Mitochondrial damage
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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