Traditional Chinese Medicine: tetrandrine and arsenic trioxide work synergistically to inhibit proliferation of triple negative breast cancer cells

A research paper published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine has shown the efficacy of tetrandrine plus arsenic trioxide in suppressing triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell proliferation.

  • Cells from the HCC1937 cell line were cultured, harvested, then prepared into single-cell suspensions divided into numerous experimental groups.
  • The cells that were treated with tetrandrine, arsenic trioxide or a combination of the two received dosages of varying quantities.
  • Through the median-effect principle, the researchers determined that the combination therapy of tetrandrine plus arsenic trioxide could inhibit TNBC HCC1937 cell proliferation.
  • Moreover, the MTT assay revealed that low concentrations yielded synergistic effects; higher concentrations caused the combination to be as effective as arsenic trioxide alone.
  • Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis and western blotting showed that the combination therapy could induce the upregulation of caspase-3, a protease involved in apoptosis.
  • PCR analysis also demonstrated that the combination therapy was able to induce apoptosis-related Bid and Bax gene expression far better than single-drug dosages.
  • At the same time, anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and survivin gene expression decreased.
  • The gathered data on apoptosis-related gene expression was inconsistent with the synergistic effects of the combination therapy, necessitating the exploration of other potential mechanisms and targets in future studies.

Based on their findings, the investigative team deduced that tetrandrine plus arsenic trioxide could synergistically induce HCC1937 cell apoptosis. Thus, combination therapy making use of the two substances could be a viable breast cancer treatment.

Full text of study at this link.

Journal reference:

Chen L, Chunhu W, Xiaohua P. TETRANDRINE AND ARSENIC TRIOXIDE SYNERGISTICALLY INHIBIT PROLIFERATION OF HCC1937 TRIPLE NEGATIVE BREAST CANCER CELLS. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. August 2017;37(4):436–443. DOI: 10.1016/S0254-6272(17)30149-8

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