Selenium inhibits growth of trastuzumab-resistant human breast cancer cells via downregulation of Akt and beclin-1

Joohyun Woo, Jong Bin Kim, Taeeun Cho, Eun Hye Yoo, Byung In Moon, Hyungju Kwon, Woosung Lim

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9 Scopus citations


The response rate to treatment with trastuzumab (Tz), a recombinant humanized anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody, is only 12–34% despite demonstrated effectiveness on improving the survival of patients with HER2-positive breast cancers. Selenium has an antitumor effect against cancer cells and can play a cytoprotective role on normal cells. This study investigated the effect of selenium on HER2-positive breast cancer cells and the mechanism in relation to the response of the cells to Tz. HER2-positive breast cancer cell lines, SK-BR-3 as trastuzumab-sensitive cells, and JIMT-1 as Tz-resistant cells were treated with Tz and sodium selenite (selenite). Cell survival rates and expression of Her2, Akt, and autophagy-related proteins, including LC3B and beclin 1, in both cell lines 72 h after treatment were evaluated. Significant cell death was induced at different concentrations of selenite in both cell lines. A combined effect of selenite and Tz at 72 h was similar to or significantly greater than each drug alone. The expression of phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) was decreased in JIMT-1 after combination treatment compared to that after only Tz treatment, while p-Akt expression was increased in SK-BR-3. The expression of beclin1 increased particularly in JIMT-1 after only Tz treatment and was downregulated by combination treatment. These results showed that combination of Tz and selenite had an antitumor effect in Tz-resistant breast cancer cells through downregulation of phosphorylated Akt and beclin1-related autophagy. Selenite might be a potent drug to treat Tz-resistant breast cancer by several mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0257298
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
StatePublished - Sep 2021

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Copyright: © 2021 Woo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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