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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Combination of dasatinib and curcumin eliminates chemo-resistant colon cancer cells

Jyoti Nautiyal123, Shailender S Kanwar13, Yingjie Yu13 and Adhip PN Majumdar123*

Author Affiliations

1 Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

2 Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

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Journal of Molecular Signaling 2011, 6:7  doi:10.1186/1750-2187-6-7

Published: 20 July 2011

Abstract

Metastatic colorectal cancer remains a serious health concern with poor patient survival. Although 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) or 5-FU plus oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) is the standard therapy for colorectal cancer, it has met with limited success. Recurrence of the tumor after chemotherapy could partly be explained by the enrichment of the chemo-resistant sub-population of cancer stem cells (CSCs) that possess the ability for self-renewal and differentiation into different lineages in the tumor. Therefore development of therapeutic strategies that target CSCs for successful treatment of this malignancy is warranted. The current investigation was undertaken to examine the effectiveness of the combination therapy of dasatinib (a Src inhibitor) and curcumin (a dietary agent with pleiotropic effect) in inhibiting the growth and other properties of carcinogenesis of chemo-resistant colon cancer cells that are enriched in CSCs sub-population. Remnants of spontaneous adenomas from APCMin +/- mice treated with dasatinib and/or curcumin were analyzed for several cancer stem cell markers (ALDH, CD44, CD133 and CD166). Human colon cancer cells HCT-116 (p53 wild type; K-ras mutant) and HT-29 (p53 mutant; K-ras wild type) were used to generate FOLFOX resistant (referred to as CR) cells. The effectiveness of the combination therapy in inhibiting growth, invasive potential and stemness was examined in colon cancer CR cells. The residual tumors from APCMin +/- mice treated with dasatinib and/or curcumin showed 80-90% decrease in the expression of the CSC markers ALDH, CD44, CD133, CD166. The colon cancer CR cells showed a higher expression of CSCs markers, cell invasion potential and ability to form colonospheres, compared to the corresponding parental cells. The combination therapy of dasatinib and curcumin demonstrated synergistic interactions in CR HCT-116 and CR HT-29 cells, as determined by Calcusyn analysis. The combinatorial therapy inhibited cellular growth, invasion and colonosphere formation and also reduced CSC population as evidenced by the decreased expression of CSC specific markers: CD133, CD44, CD166 and ALDH. Our data suggest that the combination therapy of dasatinib and curcumin may be a therapeutic strategy for re-emergence of chemo-resistant colon cancer by targeting CSC sub-population.