Previous studies have shown that reduction in BRCA1 mRNA and protein can result in increased proliferation of BG-1 ovarian cancer cells in both in vitro and in vivo conditions, suggesting that BRCA1 may normally act as a growth inhibitor in these cells. Also, there are other reports that suggest that wild-type BRCA1 protein may repress estrogen receptor (ER) function either directly or indirectly. However, response to antiestrogen drugs in BRCA1-blocked ER-positive ovarian cancer cells has not been reported, and this served as the rationale for this study. We analyzed the effect of tamoxifen, emodin, and plumbagin in BRCA1-blocked ER-positive BG-1 ovarian cancer cells. For all three drugs, BRCA1-blocked cells were more sensitive than the corresponding control cells as assessed by MTT assay; however, only plumbagin showed a statistically significant difference in mean viability (P < 0.05). All three drugs induced loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsi(m)), nuclear condensation, DNA fragmentation, and morphological changes, as observed after 6 h of drug treatment, suggesting apoptosis induction in both BRCA1-blocked and control cells. However, apoptosis induction was greater in BRCA1-blocked cells, the efficacy being in the order of plumbagin > tamoxifen > emodin. The dose of plumbagin needed to kill 50% was 5 microM in the control cells and 2.68 microM for the BRCA1-blocked cells, indicating that the latter was about twofold more sensitive to plumbagin than the wild-type cells. This throws light on the fact that plumbagin may have chemotherapeutic potential as an anticancer agent in BRCA1-mutated ovarian cancer patients.
G. Srinivas, Annab, L. A., Gopinath, G., Banerji, A., and Srinivas, P., “Antisense blocking of BRCA1 enhances sensitivity to plumbagin but not tamoxifen in BG-1 ovarian cancer cells”, Molecular carcinogenesis, vol. 39, pp. 15–25, 2004.