Exploitation of a novel phenothiazine derivative for its anti-cancer activities in malignant glioblastoma

S. I. Omoruyi, O. E. Ekpo, D. M. Semenya, A. Jardine, S. Prince

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma remains the most malignant of all primary adult brain tumours with poor patient survival and limited treatment options. This study adopts a drug repurposing approach by investigating the anti-cancer activity of a derivative of the antipsychotic drug phenothiazine (DS00329) in malignant U251 and U87 glioblastoma cells. Results from MTT (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) and clonogenic assays showed that DS00329 inhibited short-term glioblastoma cell viability and long-term survival while sparing non-cancerous cells. Western blot analysis with an antibody to γH2AX showed that DS00329 induced DNA damage and flow cytometry and western blotting confirmed that it triggered a G1 cell cycle arrest which correlated with decreased levels in Cyclin A, Cyclin B, Cyclin D1 and cyclin dependent kinase 2 and an increase in levels of the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p21. DS00329 treated glioblastoma cells exhibited morphological and molecular markers typical of apoptotic cells such as membrane blebbing and cell shrinkage and an increase in levels of cleaved PARP. Flow cytometry with annexin V-FITC/propidium iodide staining confirmed that DS00329 induced apoptotic cell death in glioblastoma cells. We also show that DS00329 treatment of glioblastoma cells led to an increase in the autophagosome marker LC3-II and autophagy inhibition studies using bafilomycin A1 and wortmannin, showed that DS00329-induced-autophagy was a pro-death mechanism. Furthermore, DS00329 treatment of glioblastoma cells inhibited the phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase/Akt cell survival pathway. Our findings suggest that DS00329 may be an effective treatment for glioblastoma and provide a rationale for further exploration and validation of the use of phenothiazines and their derivatives in the treatment of glioblastoma.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)261-274
Number of pages14
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Drug repurposing
  • Glioblastoma
  • Phenothiazines


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