Salinomycin enhances doxorubicin sensitivity through reversing the epithelial-mesenchymal transition of cholangiocarcinoma cells by regulating ARK5
Chemotherapy response rates in patients with cholangiocarcinoma remain low, primarily due to the development of drug resistance. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cancer cells is widely accepted to be important for metastasis and progression, but it has also been linked to the development of chemoresistance. Salinomycin (an antibiotic) has shown some potential as a chemotherapeutic agent as it selectively kills cancer stem cells, and has been hypothesized to block the EMT process. In this study, we investigated whether salinomycin could reverse the chemoresistance of cholangiocarcinoma cells to the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin. We found that combined salinomycin with doxorubicin treatment resulted in a significant decrease in cell viability compared with doxorubicin or salinomycin treatment alone in two cholangiocarcinoma cell lines (RBE and Huh-28). The dosages of both drugs that were required to produce a cytotoxic effect decreased, indicating that these two drugs have a synergistic effect. In terms of mechanism, salinomycin reversed doxorubicin-induced EMT of cholangiocarcinoma cells, as shown morphologically and through the detection of EMT markers. Moreover, we showed that salinomycin treatment downregulated the AMP-activated protein kinase family member 5 (ARK5) expression, which regulates the EMT process of cholangiocarcinoma. Our results indicated that salinomycin reversed the EMT process in cholangiocarcinoma cells by inhibiting ARK5 expression and enhanced the chemosensitivity of cholangiocarcinoma cells to doxorubicin. Therefore, a combined treatment of salinomycin with doxorubicin could be used to enhance doxorubicin sensitivity in patients with cholangiocarcinoma.