Repurposing ketoconazole as an exosome directed adjunct to sunitinib in treating renal cell carcinoma

Extracellular Vesicles

Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) is the most common form of kidney cancer, with clear cell RCC (ccRCC) representing about 85% of all RCC tumors. There are limited curable treatments available for metastatic ccRCC because this disease is unresponsive to conventional targeted systemic pharmacotherapy. Exosomes (Exo) are small extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted from cancer cells with marked roles in tumoral signaling and pharmacological resistance. Ketoconazole (KTZ) is an FDA approved anti-fungal medication which has been shown to suppress exosome biogenesis and secretion, yet its role in ccRCC has not been identified. A time-course, dose-dependent analysis revealed that KTZ selectively decreased secreted Exo in tumoral cell lines. Augmented Exo secretion was further evident by decreased expression of Exo biogenesis (Alix and nSMase) and secretion (Rab27a) markers. Interestingly, KTZ-mediated inhibition of Exo biogenesis was coupled with inhibition of ERK1/2 activation. Next, selective inhibitors were employed and showed ERK signaling had a direct role in mediating KTZ’s inhibition of exosomes. In sunitinib resistant 786-O cells lines, the addition of KTZ potentiates the efficacy of sunitinib by causing Exo inhibition, decreased tumor proliferation, and diminished clonogenic ability of RCC cells. Our findings suggest that KTZ should be explored as an adjunct to current RCC therapies.

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Recent Publications

Cigarette smoke (CS) represents one of the most relevant environmental risk factors for several chronic pathologies. Tissue damage caused by CS exposure is mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress induced by its toxic and pro-oxidant components. Evidence demonstrates that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types exposed to CS extract (CSE) are characterized by altered biochemical cargo and gained pathological properties. In the present study, we evaluated the content of oxidized proteins and phospholipid fatty acid profiles of EVs released by human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells treated with CSE. This specific molecular characterization has hitherto not been performed. After confirmation that CSE reduces viability of BEAS-2B cells and elevates intracellular ROS levels, in a dose-dependent manner, we demonstrated that 24 h exposure at 1% CSE, a concentration that only slight modifies cell viability but increases ROS levels, was able to increase carbonylated protein levels in cells and released EVs. The release of oxidatively modified proteins via EVs might represent a mechanism used by cells to remove toxic proteins in order to avoid their intracellular overloading. Moreover, 1% CSE induced only few changes in the fatty acid asset in BEAS-2B cell membrane phospholipids, whereas several rearrangements were observed in EVs released by CSE-treated cells. The impact of changes in acyl chain composition of CSE-EVs accounted for the increased saturation levels of phospholipids, a membrane parameter that might influence EV stability, uptake and, at least in part, EV-mediated biological effects. The present in vitro study adds new information concerning the biochemical composition of CSE-related EVs, useful to predict their biological effects on target cells. Furthermore, the information regarding the presence of oxidized proteins and the specific membrane features of CSE-related EVs can be useful to define the utilization of circulating EVs as marker for diagnosing of CS-induced lung damage and/or CS-related diseases.

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