Hexamethylene amiloride engages a novel reactive oxygen species- and lysosome-dependent programmed necrotic mechanism to selectively target breast cancer cells

Ashley R. Rowson-Hodel, Anastasia L. Berg, Jessica H. Wald, Jason Hatakeyama, Kacey VanderVorst, Daniel A. Curiel, Leonardo J. Leon, Colleen A Sweeney, Kermit L Carraway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Anticancer chemotherapeutics often rely on induction of apoptosis in rapidly dividing cells. While these treatment strategies are generally effective in debulking the primary tumor, post-therapeutic recurrence and metastasis are pervasive concerns with potentially devastating consequences. We demonstrate that the amiloride derivative 5-(N,N-hexamethylene) amiloride (HMA) harbors cytotoxic properties particularly attractive for a novel class of therapeutic agent. HMA is potently and specifically cytotoxic toward breast cancer cells, with remarkable selectivity for transformed cells relative to non-transformed or primary cells. Nonetheless, HMA is similarly cytotoxic to breast cancer cells irrespective of their molecular profile, proliferative status, or species of origin, suggesting that it engages a cell death mechanism common to all breast tumor subtypes. We observed that HMA induces a novel form of caspase- and autophagy-independent programmed necrosis relying on the orchestration of mitochondrial and lysosomal pro-death mechanisms, where its cytotoxicity was attenuated with ROS-scavengers or lysosomal cathepsin inhibition. Overall, our findings suggest HMA may efficiently target the heterogeneous populations of cancer cells known to reside within a single breast tumor by induction of a ROS- and lysosome-mediated form of programmed necrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-72
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 28 2016



  • Apoptosis
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer therapeutics
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Necrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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