Metformin increases antitumor activity of MEK inhibitor binimetinib in 2D and 3D models of human metastatic melanoma cells

Ryabaya, O; Prokofieva, A; Akasov, R; Khochenkov, D; Emelyanova, M; Burov, S; Markvicheva, E; Inshakov, A; Stepanova, E

Ryabaya, O (reprint author), NN Blokhin Natl Med Res Ctr Oncol, Dept Expt Diagnost & Tumor Therapy, 24 Kashirskoe Shosse, Moscow 115478, Russia.



Melanoma is one of the most aggressive and treatment-resistant tumors that responsible for majority of skin-cancer related deaths. Here we propose a combination of MEK inhibitor binimetinib with metformin as a promising therapy against human melanoma cells in vitro, including BRAF -mutated A375, Mel Z, and Mel IL cells, and NRAS-mutated Mel MTP and Mel Me cells. Additionally, we obtained two close to clinical practice models of melanoma progression. The first one was vemurafenib-resistant Mel IL/R melanoma cells with acquired resistance to BRAF inhibition-targeted therapy, and the second one was tumor spheroids, which are 3D in vitro model of small-size solid tumors in vivo. The cytotoxicity of binimetinib and metformin was synergistic in both 2D and 3D melanoma culture and mediated through apoptotic pathway. The combination reduced the number of melanoma-formed colonies, inhibited cell invasion and migration, and led to G0/G1 cell cycle arrest through cyclin D/CDK4/CDK6 pathway. The mechanism of metformin and binimetinib synergy in melanoma cells was associated with increased activation of p-AMPK alpha and decreased p-ERK, but not with alterations in p-mTOR. In summary, the combination of metformin and binimetinib resulted in stronger anti-proliferative effects on melanoma cells compared to binimetinib alone, and therefore could be promising for clinical applications.

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