Comparison of action of the anti-neoplastic drug lonidamine on drug-sensitive and drug-resistant human breast cancer cells: 31P and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance studies

Antonio Vivi, Maria Tassini, Hava Ben-Horin, Gil Navon, Ofer Kaplan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lonidamine (LND) is a relatively new anti-cancer drug, and several clinical trials have indicated that it may be effective in combinations with other therapeutic modalities. LND is classified within the metabolic inhibitor agents. Multidrug resistance (MDR) phenomenon is often associated with increased energy requirements, and enhanced glycolysis rate. These studies were performed to delineate the mechanism of action of LND on MDR human breast cancer cells, and to investigate whether LND as a single agent, or in combination with another anti-metabolism drug, 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG), may be useful against MDR tumors. The effects of LND on intact perfused drug-sensitive (WT) and 33-fold resistant to Adriamycin (Adr) MCF-7 cells, embedded in alginate micro capsules, were continuously monitored by 31P and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. 31P NMR studies showed that LND induced intracellular acidification and depletion of NTP in both WT and Adr cells. However, pH and NTP levels decreased less in the Adr cells than in the WT cells (p < 0.05 for both parameters). 13C NMR demonstrated that LND inhibited lactate transport, and lactate signals were elevated in both cell lines. However, the intracellular lactate levels increased to a greater extent in the WT than in the Adr cells (p < 0.05). There were major differences in the effects of LND on metabolism between sensitive and resistant cells. While LND enhanced glucose uptake in the WT cells, and its administration was followed by continuous increase of lactate signal, both processes were not affected by LND in the Adr cells. 2-DG is a glucose analogue that inhibits both cellular uptake and utilization of glucose, leading to cell starvation. Combined treatment with LND and 2-DG yielded at best additive, but not synergistic, cellular toxicity, and the metabolic effects of LND were attenuated by 2-DG. These results showed that the principal mechanism of action of LND is inhibition of lactate transport leading to intracellular lactate accumulation and acidification in both WT and Adr cells. The Adr cells were only 2-fold resistant to LND (compared to the WT cells), and since cellular uptake of alkaloid chemotherapy is improved in acidic environment, LND may have a role in the treatment protocols of MDR tumors,especially when given as the initial means for induction of intracellular acidification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • Lonidamine
  • Mechanism
  • Multi-drug resistance
  • NMR


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