Chemotherapy resistance is one of the major factors contributing to mortality from human epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Identifying drugs that can effectively kill chemotherapy-resistant EOC cells would be a major advance in reducing mortality. Glycosylated antitumour ether lipids (GAELs) are synthetic glycolipids that are cytotoxic to a wide range of cancer cells. They appear to induce cancer cell death in an apoptosis-independent manner.
Herein, the effectiveness of two GAELs, GLN and MO-101, in killing chemotherapy-sensitive and -resistant EOC cells lines and primary cell samples was tested using monolayer, non-adherent aggregate, and non-adherent spheroid cultures.
Our results show that EOC cells exhibit a differential sensitivity to the GAELs. Strikingly, both GAELs are capable of inducing EOC cell death in chemotherapy-sensitive and -resistant cells grown as monolayer or non-adherent cultures. Mechanistic studies provide evidence that apoptotic-cell death (caspase activation) contributes to, but is not completely responsible for, GAEL-induced cell killing in the A2780-cp EOC cell line, but not primary EOC cell samples.
Studies using primary EOC cell samples supports previously published work showing a GAEL-induced caspase-independent mechanism of death. GAELs hold promise for development as novel compounds to combat EOC mortality due to chemotherapy resistance.