TW-37, a small-molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2, mediates S-phase cell cycle arrest and suppresses head and neck tumor angiogenesis


Dr. Benjamin D. Zeitlin: 0000-0003-0110-0188

Document Type


Publication Title

Molecular Cancer Therapeutics









First Page


Last Page


Publication Date

Spring 4-8-2009


Members of the Bcl-2 family play a major role in the patho-biology of head and neck cancer. We have shown that Bcl-2 orchestrates a cross talk between tumor cells and endothelial cells that have a direct effect on the progression of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Notably, Bcl-2 is significantly up-regulated in the tumor-associated endothelial cells compared with the endothelial cells of normal oral mucosa in patients with HNSCC. Here, we evaluated the effect of TW-37, a small-molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2, on the cell cycle and survival of endothelial cells and HNSCC and on the progression of xenografted tumors. TW-37 has an IC(50) of 1.1 mu mol/L for primary human enclothelial cells and averaged 0.3 mu mol/L for head and neck cancer cells (OSCC3, UM-SCC-1, and UM-SCC-74A). The combination of TW-37 and cisplatin showed enhanced cytotoxic effects for endothelial cells and HNSCC in vitro, compared with single drug treatment. Notably, whereas cisplatin led to an expected G(2)-M cell cycle arrest, TW-37 mediated an S-phase cell cycle arrest in endothelial cells and in HNSCC. In vivo, TW-37 inhibited tumor angiogenesis and induced tumor apoptosis without significant systemic toxicities. Combination of TW-37 and cisplatin enhanced the time to tumor failure (i.e., 4-fold increase in tumor volume), compared with either drug given separately. Collectively, these data reveal that therapeutic inhibition of Bcl-2 function with TW-37 is sufficient to arrest endothelial cells and HNSCC in the S phase of the cell cycle and to inhibit head and neck tumor angiogenesis. [Mol Cancer Their 2009;8(4):893-903]