High-grade epithelial ovarian cancer is a fatal disease in women frequently associated with drug resistance and poor outcomes. We previously demonstrated that a marine-derived compound MalforminA1 (MA1) was cytotoxic for the breast cancer cell line MCF-7. In this study, we aimed to examine the effect of MA1 on human ovarian cancer cells. The potential cytotoxicity of MA1was tested on cisplatin-sensitive (A2780S) and cisplatin-resistant (A2780CP) ovarian cancer cell lines using AlamarBlue assay, Hoechst dye, flow cytometry, Western blot, and RT-qPCR. MA1 had higher cytotoxic activity on A2780S (IC50 = 0.23 µM) and A2780CP (IC50 = 0.34 µM) cell lines when compared to cisplatin (IC50 = 31.4 µM and 76.9 µM, respectively). Flow cytometry analysis confirmed the cytotoxic effect of MA1. The synergistic effect of the two drugs was obvious, since only 13% of A2780S and 7% of A2780CP cells remained alive after 24 h of treatment with both MA1 and cisplatin. Moreover, we examined the expression of bcl2, p53, caspase3/9 genes at RNA and protein levels using RT-qPCR and Western blot, respectively, to figure out the cell death mechanism induced by MA1. A significant down-regulation in bcl2 and p53 genes was observed in treated cells compared to non-treated cells (p < 0.05), suggesting that MA1 may not follow the canonical pathway to induce apoptosis in ovarian cancer cell lines. MalforminA1 showed promising anticancer activity by inducing cytotoxicity in cisplatin-sensitive and cisplatin-resistant cancer cell lines. Interestingly, a synergistic effect was observed when MA1 was combined with cisplatin, leading to it overcoming its resistance to cisplatin.
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