Blom K, Senkowski W, Jarvius M, Berglund M, Rubin J, Lenhammar L, Parrow V, Andersson C, Loskog A, Fryknäs M, Nygren P, Larsson R
Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 39 (4) 199-210 [2017-08-00; online 2017-05-04]
Mebendazole (MBZ), a drug commonly used for helminitic infections, has recently gained substantial attention as a repositioning candidate for cancer treatment. However, the mechanism of action behind its anticancer activity remains unclear. To address this problem, we took advantage of the curated MBZ-induced gene expression signatures in the LINCS Connectivity Map (CMap) database. The analysis revealed strong negative correlation with MEK/ERK1/2 inhibitors. Moreover, several of the most upregulated genes in response to MBZ exposure were related to monocyte/macrophage activation. The MBZ-induced gene expression signature in the promyeloblastic HL-60 cell line was strongly enriched in genes involved in monocyte/macrophage pro-inflammatory (M1) activation. This was subsequently validated using MBZ-treated THP-1 monocytoid cells that demonstrated gene expression, surface markers and cytokine release characteristic of the M1 phenotype. At high concentrations MBZ substantially induced the release of IL-1β and this was further potentiated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). At low MBZ concentrations, cotreatment with LPS was required for MBZ-stimulated IL-1β secretion to occur. Furthermore, we show that the activation of protein kinase C, ERK1/2 and NF-kappaB were required for MBZ-induced IL-1β release. MBZ-induced IL-1β release was found to be dependent on NLRP3 inflammasome activation and to involve TLR8 stimulation. Finally, MBZ induced tumor-suppressive effects in a coculture model with differentiated THP-1 macrophages and HT29 colon cancer cells. In summary, we report that MBZ induced a pro-inflammatory (M1) phenotype of monocytoid cells, which may, at least partly, explain MBZ's anticancer activity observed in animal tumor models and in the clinic.