Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is one of the standard treatment options for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. The details of the biological defense mechanisms against BCG remain unclear. Here, we investigated whether BCG-induced release of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs; e.g., human beta-defensin-2, -3, and cathelicidin) is involved with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, and investigated the enhanced anticancer effect of BCG through the down-regulation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and MAPK pathways in bladder cancer cells. BCG-infected bladder cancer cells produced AMPs as a defense mechanism against BCG, which were reduced by MEK inhibitors by blocking phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2 or MEK) and c-Jun. MEK inhibitors enhanced inhibition of bladder cancer cell growth by decreased binding of c-Jun, p65 and Pol II to the activated protein-1 promoter. Knockdown of TLR2 and TLR4 reduced ERK phosphorylation. Knockdown of TLR 2 decreased release of AMPs, which was similar to the efficacy of MEK inhibitor on BCG-infected cells. BCG-infected bladder cancer cells were more prone to induction of AMP release following TLR2 activation via ERK and c-Jun pathway mediators. In conclusion, our data suggest that the BCG-induced release of AMPs in bladder cancer cells is a promising molecular target for enhancing the immunotherapeutic efficacy of BCG in bladder cancer patients.
Whang, Y. M., Bin Jin, S., Park, S. I., & Chang, I. H. (2017). MEK inhibition enhances efficacy of bacillus Calmette-Guérin on bladder cancer cells by reducing release of Toll-like receptor 2-activated antimicrobial peptides. Oncotarget, 8(32). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18230