New treatment options are needed for medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), a highly metastasizing neuroendocrine tumor that is resistant to standard radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We show that the following shikonin derivatives inhibit cell proliferation and cell viability of the MTC cell line TT: acetylshikonin, β,β-dimethylacrylshikonin, shikonin and a petroleum ether extract of the roots of Onosma paniculata containing several shikonin derivatives. The unsubstituted shikonin derivative was found to be the most effective compound with an IC50 of 1.1 µM. The cell viability of normal human skin fibroblasts, however, was not affected by the tested substances, indicating that shikonin derivatives might be selectively toxic for cancer cells. We further report that migration and invasion of TT cells were inhibited at non-toxic concentrations. Finally, shikonin was tested in vivo using the chick chorioallantoic membrane assay, where it significantly reduced tumor growth by inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis. In summary, our results suggest that shikonin derivatives have the potential for the treatment of medullary thyroid carcinomas.
Carina Hasenoehrl, Gert Schwach, Nassim Ghaffari-Tabrizi-Wizsy, Robert Fuchs, Nadine Kretschmer, Rudolf Bauer and Roswitha Pfragner
Nassim Ghaffari-Tabrizi-Wizsy, Christina Angelika Passegger, Laura Nebel, Fabian Krismer, Gudrun Herzer-Schneidhofer, Gert Schwach and Roswitha Pfragner
Preclinical trials of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) therapeutics require both in vitro and in vivo analyses. Human tumour xenografted rodent models, which are considered the ‘gold standard’ to study and validate the efficacy and toxicity of lead compounds before translation to clinical trials, are very expensive, subject to organismal variability and ethical controversies. The avian chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay provides an alternative versatile, cost-effective and ethically less objectionable short-term, in vivo model for reliable screening of drugs. In this work, we grafted two MTC cell lines and patient-derived MTC tumour samples onto the avian CAM and characterised the resulted tumours histologically and immunohistochemically. Our findings provide the evidence that the CAM assay is a suitable model for studying the pathophysiology of MTC and can even be used as in vivo system for drug testing.