Balsalazide is a colon-specific prodrug of 5-aminosalicylate that is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer in patients with ulcerative colitis. Parthenolide, a strong NF-κB inhibitor, has recently been demonstrated to be a promising therapeutic agent, promoting apoptosis of cancer cells. In the current study, the antitumor effect of balsalazide combined with parthenolide in human colorectal cancer cells and colitis-associated colon cancers (CAC) was investigated. The results demonstrate that the combination of balsalazide and parthenolide markedly suppress proliferation, nuclear translocation of NF-κB, IκB-α phosphorylation, NF-κB DNA binding, and expression of NF-κB targets. Apoptosis via NF-κB signaling was confirmed by detecting expression of caspases, p53 and PARP. Moreover, treatment of a CAC murine model with parthenolide and balsalazide together resulted in significant recovery of body weight and improvement in histologic severity. Administration of parthenolide and balsalazide to CAC mice also suppressed carcinogenesis as demonstrated by uptake of 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) using micro-PET/CT scans. These results demonstrate that parthenolide potentiates the efficacy of balsalazide through synergistic inhibition of NF-κB activation and the combination of dual agents prevents colon carcinogenesis from chronic inflammation.
Implications: This study represents the first evidence that combination therapy with balsalazide and parthenolide could be a new regimen for colorectal cancer treatment. Mol Cancer Res; 15(2); 141–51. ©2016 AACR.
- Received March 22, 2016.
- Revision received October 8, 2016.
- Accepted October 10, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.