Fluoxetine Simultaneously Induces Both Apoptosis and Autophagy in Human Gastric Adenocarcinoma Cells

  • Po, Wah Wah (Laboratory of Signalling and Pharmacological Activity, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University) ;
  • Thein, Wynn (Laboratory of Signalling and Pharmacological Activity, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University) ;
  • Khin, Phyu Phyu (Laboratory of Signalling and Pharmacological Activity, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University) ;
  • Khing, Tin Myo (Laboratory of Signalling and Pharmacological Activity, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University) ;
  • Han, Khin Wah Wah (Laboratory of Signalling and Pharmacological Activity, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University) ;
  • Park, Chan Hee (Laboratory of Signalling and Pharmacological Activity, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University) ;
  • Sohn, Uy Dong (Laboratory of Signalling and Pharmacological Activity, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University)
  • Received : 2019.06.24
  • Accepted : 2019.08.12
  • Published : 2020.03.01


Fluoxetine is used widely as an antidepressant for the treatment of cancer-related depression, but has been reported to also have anti-cancer activity. In this study, we investigated the cytotoxicity of fluoxetine to human gastric adenocarcinoma cells; as shown by the MTT assay, fluoxetine induced cell death. Subsequently, cells were treated with 10 or 20 µM fluoxetine for 24 h and analyzed. Apoptosis was confirmed by the increased number of early apoptotic cells, shown by Annexin V- propidium iodide staining. Nuclear condensation was visualized by DAPI staining. A significant increase in the expression of cleaved PARP was observed by western blotting. The pan-caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK was used to detect the extent of caspase-dependent cell death. The induction of autophagy was determined by the formation of acidic vesicular organelles (AVOs), which was visualized by acridine orange staining, and the increased expression of autophagy markers, such as LC3B, Beclin 1, and p62/SQSTM 1, observed by western blotting. The expression of upstream proteins, such as p-Akt and p-mTOR, were decreased. Autophagic degradation was evaluated by using bafilomycin, an inhibitor of late-stage autophagy. Bafilomycin did not significantly enhance LC3B expression induced by fluoxetine, which suggested autophagic degradation was impaired. In addition, the co-administration of the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine and fluoxetine significantly increased fluoxetine-induced apoptosis, with decreased p-Akt and markedly increased death receptor 4 and 5 expression. Our results suggested that fluoxetine simultaneously induced both protective autophagy and apoptosis and that the inhibition of autophagy enhanced fluoxetine-induced apoptosis through increased death receptor expression.



Supported by : National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF)

The research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology [Grant2016R1D1A1A09918019 and NRF-2016R1A6A3A11932218].


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