Thonzonium bromide inhibits progression of malignant pleural mesothelioma through regulation of ERK1/2 and p38 pathways and mitochondrial uncoupling

Cancer Cell International 2024 June 29 [Link]

Irene Dell’Anno, Federica Morani, Simone Patergnani, Antonio Daga, Paolo Pinton, Carlotta Giorgi, Luciano Mutti, Federica Gemignani, Stefano Landi


Background: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare malignancy with a poor prognosis. Current therapies are unsatisfactory and novel cures are urgently needed. In a previous drug screening, we identified thonzonium bromide (TB) as one of the most active compounds against MPM cells. Since the biological effects of TB are poorly known, in this work we departed from some hints of previous studies and investigated several hypotheses. Moreover, we evaluated the efficacy of TB in an in vivo xenograft rodent model.

Methods: In vitro assessment was made on five MPM (Mero-14, Mero-25, Ren, NCI-H28, MSTO-211H) and one SV40-immortalized mesothelial cell line (MeT-5A). We evaluated TB ability to affect proliferation, apoptosis, mitochondrial functions and metabolism, and the mevalonate pathway. In vivo assay was carried out on MPM-xenograft NOD-SCID mice (4 mg/kg delivered intraperitoneally, twice a week for 4 weeks) and the overall survival was analysed with Kaplan-Meier curves.

Results: After TB treatment, we observed the suppression of ERK 1/2 phosphorylation, the increase of BAX expression and p38 phosphorylation. TB affected Ca2+ homeostasis in both mitochondrial and cytosolic compartments, it regulated the mitochondrial functioning, respiration, and ATP production as well as the mevalonate pathway. The in vivo study showed an increased overall survival for TB treated group vs. vehicle control group (P = 0.0076).

Conclusions: Both in vitro and in vivo results confirmed the effect of TB on MPM and unravelled novel targets with translational potential.

Keywords: Malignant pleural mesothelioma; Mitochondrial uncouplers; NOD-SCID; Thonzonium bromide.