Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Apoptotic effects of alkylpyridinium compounds on lung adenocarcinoma cells

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology   

Code Science Field
B200  Biomedical sciences  Cytology, oncology, cancerology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
alkylpyridinium polymers, sintetic analogues, NSCLC adenokarcinoma, nicotinic receptors, inhibitors, apoptosis
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (19)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  15686  PhD Gregor Anderluh  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2011  966 
2.  21407  PhD Sabina Berne  Biotechnology  Researcher  2012 - 2014  165 
3.  24290  PhD Matej Butala  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2011  236 
4.  14575  PhD Maja Čemažar  Oncology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  1,408 
5.  09892  PhD Metka Filipič  Biology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  585 
6.  12449  PhD Robert Frangež  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2011 - 2014  276 
7.  28387  PhD Urška Kamenšek  Oncology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  184 
8.  19058  PhD Simona Kranjc Brezar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2011 - 2014  312 
9.  00412  PhD Igor Križaj  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  715 
10.  18802  PhD Adrijana Leonardi  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  153 
11.  06994  PhD Peter Maček  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2011  523 
12.  33683  Nina Orehar    Technical associate  2011 - 2014 
13.  06902  PhD Zdravko Podlesek  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2011  137 
14.  15328  PhD Kristina Sepčić  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2011 - 2013  723 
15.  08800  PhD Gregor Serša  Oncology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  1,494 
16.  06905  PhD Tom Turk  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Head  2011 - 2014  618 
17.  10974  PhD Irena Zajc  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2012  134 
18.  29601  PhD Ana Zovko  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2011  17 
19.  20767  PhD Bojana Žegura  Biology  Researcher  2012 - 2014  338 
Organisations (5)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,315 
2.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  89,989 
3.  0302  Institute of Oncology Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5055733000  15,352 
4.  0406  University of Ljubljana, Veterinary Faculty  Ljubljana  1627139  10,689 
5.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,549 
Alkylpyridinium polymers (polyAPS) are natural products isolated from the Mediterranean species of marine sponge Reniera sarai. At first, these compounds were recognized as acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors, but preliminary experiments with their synthetic analogues have revealed they are much stronger antagonists of ?7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Natural polyAPS are cytotoxic for a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) adenocarcinoma cell line (A549), but not for normal lung fibroblasts that do not express ?7 or other nAChR subtypes, which are less susceptible to polyAPS. Preliminary experiments also revealed the cytotoxic effects of polyAPS on a lung adenocarcinoma primary cell line as well as their ability to limit the growth of solid tumors in mice. However, serious drawbacks of the polyAPS compounds include their large, heterogeneous molecular size, their propensity to form even larger supramolecular aggregates in aqueous solutions and their non-specific cytolytic activity. Therefore a therapeutic use of these natural products seems unlikely. Recently, we prepared a series of smaller synthetic alkylpyridinium oligomers with similar structural and functional properties. Each has a defined molecular weight and is not prone to aggregate in aqueous solutions. Initial experiments have shown that at least one analogue (8Br-1) is very potent ?7 nAChR antagonist at pM concentrations. This concentration is several orders of magnitude lower than is required for AChE inhibition. This finding is important since AChE inhibition might enhance cancer cell proliferation, which would oppose the effects of nAChR antagonists that reduce proliferation of NSCLC, SCLC and MPM (mezothelioma) lung cancer cell lines. The ?7 nAChR also is important for mediating cognitive functions in the central nervous system, protected by the blood brain barrier. In nonneural cells expressing nAChRs, binding of the agonist nicotine triggers antiapoptotic and proliferative signaling pathways which prevent cell death and enhance tumor growth. By using nAChR antagonists, we would like to achieve the opposite effect: to activate proapoptotic pathways that lead to cell death and destruction of cancer cells and inhibit their proliferation. We believe that the smaller, synthetic alkypyridinium analogs, due to their high affinity for ?7 nAChRs, may become useful drugs in treating one of the most common types of lung cancer connected with smoking. These compounds may also serve as tools to elucidate certain signaling pathways and the roles of proapoptotic proteins involved in mitochondrial damage and activation of caspases. Our in vitro studies will provide a solid foundation for our subsequent tests of these compounds in animal models of these cancers.
Significance for science
Lung cancer remains one of the most invasive cancers and cause high percent of death among patients with cancer. most of the lung cancer forms are tightly linked to smoking. Knowledge about different cancer cells, their receptors and signaling pathways, which prevent apoptosis, enhance proliferation and angiogenesis is basic key leading to the development of suitable compounds, which would be effective for certain lung cancer types. Results and publication raised from our project work we contributed to the knowledge of mechanisms, which prevent cancer cells to become apoptotic. We revealed the role of nicotine and nAChR and also showed how natural or synthetic nAChR antagonists, above all those which are specific for alpha 7 subtype, trigger signaling pathways which cause programmed cell death in cancer cells, while normal cells remain largely unaffected. Experiments in vivo using imunononcompetent mice showed that direct intra tumor injection of one of the alkylpyridinium analogues strongly decrease or even completely stop or eliminate human adenocarcinoma tumors in experimental animals.
Significance for the country
It is hard to define how our research contributes to the development of Slovenia. Our answer is no more or no less than it contributes to the science in general. We can only say that many different aspects of of lung cancer, its treatment and a fact that different lung cancer subtypes are tightly linked to smoking is not only a Slovenian but a worldwide problem. Domestic knowledge about this phenomena, mechanisms involved in programmed cell death, proliferation of cancer cells and angiogenesis is with no doubt important not only for Slovenia but in much broader context. In this regard our research of lung cancer also contributes to the recognition of Slovenia and its science.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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