Etoposide upregulates survival favoring sphingosine-1-phosphate in etoposide-resistant retinoblastoma cells

Vinodh Kakkassery, S. Skosyrski, A. Lüth, B. Kleuser, M. van der Giet, R. Tate, J. Reinhard, A. Faissner, S. C. Joachim, N. Kociok

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Improved knowledge of retinoblastoma chemotherapy resistance is needed to raise treatment efficiency. The objective of this study was to test whether etoposide alters glucosyl-ceramide, ceramide, sphingosine, and sphingosine-1-phosphate (sphingosine-1-P) levels in parental retinoblastoma cells (WERI Rb1) or their etoposide-resistant subclones (WERI EtoR). WERI Rb1 and WERI EtoR were incubated with 400 ng/ml etoposide for 24 h. Levels of glucosyl-ceramides, ceramides, sphingosine, sphingosine-1-P were detected by Q-TOF mass spectrometry. Statistical analysis was done by ANOVA followed by Tukey post-hoc test (p < 0.05). The mRNA expression of sphingolipid pathways enzymes in WERI Rb1, WERI EtoR and four human retinoblastoma tissue samples was analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR. Pathways enzymes mRNA expression confirmed similarities of human sphingolipid metabolism in both cell lines and tissue samples, but different relative expression. Significant up-regulation of sphingosine was seen in both cell lines (p < 0.001). Only sphingosine-1-P up-regulation was significantly increased in WERI EtoR (p < 0.01), but not in WERI Rb1 (p > 0.2). Both cell lines upregulate pro-apoptotic sphingosine after etoposide incubation, but only WERI EtoR produces additional survival favorable sphingosine-1-P. These data may suggest a role of sphingosine-1-P in retinoblastoma chemotherapy resistance, although this seems not to be the only resistance mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalPathology & Oncology Research
Early online date15 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Nov 2017


  • retinoblastoma
  • sphingosine-1-phosphate
  • chemotherapy resistance

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