Anti-tumor effect of folate-binding protein: In Vitro and In Vivo studies

Hajar Samadian, Rachel L. Merzel, Jennifer M. Dyson, Junjie Chen, Carolina Frey, Alexis Jones, Mark Vartanian, Brent B. Ward, Mark M. Banaszak Holl

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Folate receptor (FR) overexpression in a wide range of solid tumors provides an opportunity to develop novel, targeted cancer therapeutics. In this study, we investigated whether prebinding the chemotherapeutic methotrexate (MTX) to folate-binding protein (FBP), the soluble form of FR, would enable the protein to serve as a targeted therapeutic vector, enhancing uptake into tumor cells and improving therapeutic efficacy. In an in vivo study, using an FR-overexpressing KB xenograft model in SCID mice, modest improvement in inhibiting tumor growth was observed for the MTX/FBP mixtures as compared to saline control and free MTX. Surprisingly, FBP alone inhibited tumor growth compared to saline control, free MTX, and FBP/MTX. In order to better understand this effect, we investigated the cytotoxicity of micromolar concentrations of FBP in vitro using the KB, HeLa, and A549 cancer cell lines. Our results revealed concentration-dependent apoptosis (24 h; 10-50 μM) in all three cell lines accompanied by a time- and concentration-dependent reduction (6, 12, and 24 h; 10-50 μM) in metabolic activity and compromised cell plasma membrane integrity. This study demonstrates an apoptosis pathway for cytotoxicity of FBP, an endogenous serum protein, in cancer cell lines with widely varying levels of FR expression. Furthermore, in vivo tumor growth suppression for xenograft KB tumors in SCID mice was observed. These studies suggest novel strategies for the elimination of cancer cells employing endogenous, serum transport proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-852
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2022


  • antifolate
  • cancer therapy
  • folate receptor
  • folate-binding protein
  • methotrexate
  • serum transport protein

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