Combined regimen of photodynamic therapy mediated by Gallium phthalocyanine chloride and Metformin enhances anti-melanoma efficacy

Diana Tudor, Iuliana Nenu, Gabriela Adriana Filip, Diana Olteanu, Mihai Cenariu, Flaviu Tabaran, Rodica Mariana Ion, Lucian Gligor, Ioana Baldea

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20 Scopus citations


Background Melanoma therapy is challenging, especially in advanced cases, due to multiple developed tumor defense mechanisms. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) might represent an adjuvant treatment, because of its bimodal action: tumor destruction and immune system awakening. In this study, a combination of PDT mediated by a metal substituted phthalocyanine - Gallium phthalocyanine chloride (GaPc) and Metformin was used against melanoma. The study aimed to: (1) find the anti-melanoma efficacy of GaPc-PDT, (2) assess possible beneficial effects of Metformin addition to PDT, (3) uncover some of the mechanisms underlining cell killing and anti-angiogenic effects. Methods Two human lightly pigmented melanoma cell lines: WM35 and M1/15 subjected to previous Metformin exposure were treated by GaPc-PDT. Cell viability, death mechanism, cytoskeleton alterations, oxidative damage, were assessed by means of colorimetry, flowcytometry, confocal microscopy, spectrophotometry, ELISA, Western Blotting. Results GaPc proved an efficient photosensitizer. Metformin addition enhanced cell killing by mechanisms dependent on the cell line, namely apoptosis in the metastatic M1/15 and necrosis in the radial growth phase, WM35. Cell death mechanism relied on the inhibition of nuclear transcription factor (NF)-κB activation and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) - related apoptosis- inducing ligand (TRAIL) sensitization, leading to TRAIL and TNF-α induced apoptosis. Metformin diminished the anti-angiogenic effect of PDT. Conclusions Metformin addition to GaPc-PDT increased tumor cell killing through enhanced oxidative damage and induction of proapoptotic mechanisms, but altered PDT anti-angiogenic effects. General significance Combination of Metformin and PDT might represent a solution to enhance the efficacy, leading to a potential adjuvant role of PDT in melanoma therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0173241
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Tudor et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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  • Journal Article


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