We have examined the effect of neutralizing TGF-beta antibodies on cisplatin-mediated cytotoxicity against MDA-231 human breast tumor cell spheroids. These tridimensional in vitro systems have been shown to recapitulate the drug sensitivity pattern of tumor cells in vivo. MDA-231 tumor cell spheroids exhibit higher protein levels of the cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitors p21 and p27 and >10-fold lower Cdk2 activity compared to adherent cell monolayers, as well as pRb hypophosphorylation, a predominant G1 population, and a cisplatin 1-h IC50 of approximately 100 microM. Treatment of MDA-231 cells in monolayer with cisplatin for 1 h, subsequently grown as spheroids, increased steady-state TGF-beta1 mRNA levels, secretion of active TGF-beta, cellular Cdk2 activity, pRb phosphorylation, and p21 protein levels, while downregulating p27. Accumulation of cells in G2M and progression into S were noted 48 h after treatment with 100 microM cisplatin. We tested whether drug-induced upregulation of TGF-beta1 and p21, perhaps by preventing cell cycle progression, were protective mechanisms against drug-mediated toxicity by using neutralizing anti-TGF-beta antibodies. Anti-TGF-beta antibodies diminished the induction of p21, enhanced the activation of Cdk2, and facilitated progression into S and G2M following cisplatin treatment. This resulted in a >twofold enhancement of drug-induced DNA fragmentation and a shift in the cisplatin 1-h IC50 from 100 to <10 microM. These data suggest that tumor cell TGF-beta1 may protect from DNA damage and that postchemotherapy administration of TGF-beta inhibitors may facilitate progression beyond G1/S, potentially increasing the efficacy of cytotoxic chemotherapy.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.