The botanical drug PBI-05204, a supercritical CO 2 extract of Nerium oleander , sensitizes alveolar and embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma to radiotherapy in vitro and in vivo
Treatment of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), the most common a soft tissue sarcoma in childhood, provides intensive multimodal therapy, with radiotherapy (RT) playing a critical role for local tumor control. However, since RMS efficiently activates mechanisms of resistance to therapies, despite improvements, the prognosis remains still largely unsatisfactory, mainly in RMS expressing chimeric oncoproteins PAX3/PAX7-FOXO1, and fusion-positive (FP)-RMS. Cardiac glycosides (CGs), plant-derived steroid-like compounds with a selective inhibitory activity of the Na + /K + -ATPase pump (NKA), have shown antitumor and radio-sensitizing properties. Herein, the therapeutic properties of PBI-05204, an extract from Nerium oleander containing the CG oleandrin already studied in phase I and II clinical trials for cancer patients, were investigated, in vitro and in vivo , against FN- and FP-RMS cancer models. PBI-05204 induced growth arrest in a concentration dependent manner, with FP-RMS being more sensitive than FN-RMS, by differently regulating cell cycle regulators and commonly upregulating cell cycle inhibitors p21 Waf1/Cip1 and p27 Cip1/Kip1 . Furthermore, PBI-05204 concomitantly induced cell death on both RMS types and senescence in FN-RMS. Notably, PBI-05204 counteracted in vitro migration and invasion abilities and suppressed the formation of spheroids enriched in CD133 + cancer stem cells (CSCs). PBI-05204 sensitized both cell types to RT by improving the ability of RT to induce G2 growth arrest and counteracting the RT-induced activation of both Non‐Homologous End‐Joining and homologous recombination DSBs repair pathways. Finally, the antitumor and radio-sensitizing proprieties of PBI-05204 were confirmed in vivo . Notably, both in vitro and in vivo evidence confirmed the higher sensitivity to PBI-05204 of FP-RMS. Thus, PBI-05204 represents a valid radio-sensitizing agent for the treatment of RMS, including the intrinsically radio-resistant FP-RMS.