Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) lacks specific therapeutic target and limits to chemotherapy and is essential to develop novel therapeutic regimens. Increasing studies indicated that tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), has anti-tumor therapeutic effect in estrogen receptor α (ERα)-negative tumor. Here, we determined whether autophagy was activated by tamoxifen in TNBC cells. Moreover, CSC-3436 displayed strong and selective growth inhibition on cancer cells. Next, we investigated the anti-proliferation effect of combination of CSC-3436 plus tamoxifen on cell death in TNBC cells.
Our study found that tamoxifen induces autophagy in TNBC cells. Endoplasmic reticulum stress and AMPK/mTOR contributed tamoxifen-induced autophagy. Interestingly, in combination treatment with CSC-3436 enhanced the anti-proliferative effect of tamoxifen. We found that CSC-3436 switched tamoxifen-induced autophagy to apoptosis via cleavage of ATG-5. Moreover, AMPK/mTOR pathway may involve in CSC-3436 switched tamoxifen-induced autophagy to apoptosis. The combination of tamoxifen and CSC-3436 produced stronger tumor growth inhibition compared with CSC-3436 or tamoxifen alone treatments in vivo.
These data indicated that CSC-3436 combined with tamoxifen may be a potential approach for treatment TNBC.