Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a malignant subtype of thyroid cancers and its mechanism of development remains inconclusive. Importantly, there is no effective strategy for treatment since ATC is not responsive to conventional therapies, including radioactive iodine therapy and thyroid-stimulating hormone suppression. Here, we report that a combinational approach consisting of drugs designed for targeting lipid metabolism, lovastatin (an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, HMGCR) and troglitazone (an agonist of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, PPARγ), exhibits anti-proliferation in cell culture systems and leads to tumor regression in a mouse xenograft model. The composition contains a sub-lethal concentration of both drugs and exhibits low toxicity to certain types of normal cells. Our results support a hypothesis that the inhibitory effect of the combination is partly through a cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase, as evidenced by the induction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p21cip and p27kip, and the reduction of hyperphosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (pp-Rb)-E2F1 signaling. Therefore, targeting two pathways involved in lipid metabolism may provide a new direction for treating ATC.
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