Research Articles (African Cancer Institute)

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    Baseline audiological profiling of South African females with cervical cancer : an important attribute for assessing cisplatin-associated ototoxicity
    (BMC (part of Springer Nature), 2021-04-20) Paken, Jessica; Govender, Cyril D.; Pillay, Mershen; Ayele, Birhanu T.; Sewram, Vikash
    Background: Cisplatin is a popular antineoplastic agent used to treat cervical cancer in women from low and middle-income countries. Cisplatin treatment is associated with ototoxicity, often resulting in hearing loss. In light of this, it is crucial to conduct baseline audiological assessments prior to treatment initiation in order to evaluate the extent of cisplatin-associated-ototoxicity. Additionally, the identification of inherent risk factors and hearing patterns in specific patient cohorts is needed, especially in South Africa, a middle-income country characterized by the quadruple burden of disease (Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Tuberculosis (TB), Diabetes and Hypertension). Methods: This study aimed to describe a profile of risk factors and hearing in a cohort of females with cervical cancer before cisplatin treatment commenced. A descriptive study design that included 82 cervical cancer patients, who underwent audiological evaluation prescribed for ototoxicity monitoring was conducted. Results: All participants (n = 82) presented with risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and antiretroviral therapy) for cisplatin ototoxicity and/or pre-existing sensorineural hearing loss. High-frequency tinnitus was the most common otological symptom experienced by 25 (31%) participants. Fifty-nine (72%) participants presented with normal hearing, twenty-two (27%) with a sensorineural hearing loss, and 36% were diagnosed with mild hearing loss. Abnormal Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAE) findings were obtained bilaterally in two participants (2.4%), in the right ear only of another two (2.4%) participants and the left ear of three participants (3.7%). Most participants (94%) had excellent word recognition scores, demonstrating an excellent ability to recognize words within normal conversational levels under optimal listening conditions. Age was significantly associated with hearing loss at all thresholds. Among the co-morbidities, an HIV positive status significantly triggered hearing loss, especially at higher frequencies. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that South African females with cervical cancer present with various co-morbidities, which may predispose them to develop cisplatin-associated -ototoxic hearing loss. Identification of these comorbidities and hearing loss is essential for the accurate monitoring of cisplatin toxicities. Appropriate management of these patients is pivotal to reduce the adverse effects that hearing impairment can have on an individual’s quality of life and to facilitate informed decision-making regarding the commencement of cisplatin chemotherapy.
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    Mechanisms of doxorubicin-induced drug resistance and drug resistant tumour growth in a murine breast tumour model
    (BMC (part of Springer Nature), 2019-08-01) Christowitz, Claudia; Davis, Tanja Andrea; Isaacs, Ashwin; Van Niekerk, Gustav; Hattingh, Suzel; Engelbrecht, Anna-Mart
    Background: Doxorubicin is currently the most effective chemotherapeutic drug used to treat breast cancer. It has, however, been shown that doxorubicin can induce drug resistance resulting in poor patient prognosis and survival. Studies reported that the interaction between signalling pathways can promote drug resistance through the induction of proliferation, cell cycle progression and prevention of apoptosis. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the effects of doxorubicin on apoptosis signalling, autophagy, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)- and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signalling pathway, cell cycle control, and regulators of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process in murine breast cancer tumours. Methods: A tumour-bearing mouse model was established by injecting murine E0771 breast cancer cells, suspended in Hank’s Balances Salt Solution and Corning® Matrigel® Basement Membrane Matrix, into female C57BL/ 6 mice. Fourty-seven mice were randomly divided into three groups, namely tumour control (received Hank’s Balances Salt Solution), low dose doxorubicin (received total of 6 mg/ml doxorubicin) and high dose doxorubicin (received total of 15 mg/ml doxorubicin) groups. A higher tumour growth rate was, however, observed in doxorubicin-treated mice compared to the untreated controls. We therefore compared the expression levels of markers involved in cell death and survival signalling pathways, by means of western blotting and fluorescencebased immunohistochemistry. Results: Doxorubicin failed to induce cell death, by means of apoptosis or autophagy, and cell cycle arrest, indicating the occurrence of drug resistance and uncontrolled proliferation. Activation of the MAPK/ extracellularsignal- regulated kinase (ERK) pathway contributed to the resistance observed in treated mice, while no significant changes were found with the PI3K/Akt pathway and other MAPK pathways. Significant changes were also observed in cell cycle p21 and DNA replication minichromosome maintenance 2 proteins. No significant changes in EMT markers were observed after doxorubicin treatment. Conclusions: Our results suggest that doxorubicin-induced drug resistance and tumour growth can occur through the adaptive role of the MAPK/ERK pathway in an effort to protect tumour cells. Previous studies have shown that the efficacy of doxorubicin can be improved by inhibition of the ERK signalling pathway and thereby treatment failure can be overcome.