Inhibition of polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) enhances the antineoplastic activity of metformin in prostate cancer

Chen Shao, Nihal Ahmad, Kurt Hodges, Shihuan Kuang, Tim Ratliff, Xiaoqi Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The widely used anti-diabetic drug metformin has been shown to exert strong antineoplastic actions in numerous tumor types, including prostate cancer (PCa). In this study, we show that BI2536, a specific Plk1 inhibitor, acted synergistically with metformin in inhibiting PCa cell proliferation. Furthermore, we also provide evidence that Plk1 inhibition makes PCa cells carrying WT p53 much more sensitive to low-dose metformin treatment. Mechanistically, we found that co-treatment with BI2536 and metformin induced p53-dependent apoptosis and further activated the p53/Redd-1 pathway. Moreover, we also show that BI2536 treatment inhibited metformin-induced glycolysis and glutamine anaplerosis, both of which are survival responses of cells against mitochondrial poisons. Finally, we confirmed the cell-based observations using both cultured cell-derived and patient-derived xenograft studies. Collectively, our findings support another promising therapeutic strategy by combining two well tolerated drugs against PCa proliferation and the progression of androgen-dependent PCa to the castration-resistant stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2024-2033
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 23 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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