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Dissecting the Mechanism of Action of Spiperone— A Candidate for Drug Repurposing for Colorectal Cancer

  • Autori: Antona A.; Varalda M.; Roy K.; Favero F.; Mazzucco E.; Zuccala M.; Leo G.; Soggia G.; Bettio V.; Tosi M.; Gaggianesi M.; Riva B.; Reano S.; Genazzani A.; Manfredi M.; Stassi G.; Cora D.; Dalfonso S.; Capello D.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2022
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Approximately 50% of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients still die from recurrence and metastatic disease, highlighting the need for novel therapeutic strategies. Drug repurposing is attracting increasing attention because, compared to traditional de novo drug discovery processes, it may reduce drug development periods and costs. Epidemiological and preclinical evidence support the antitumor activity of antipsychotic drugs. Herein, we dissect the mechanism of action of the typical antipsychotic spiperone in CRC. Spiperone can reduce the clonogenic potential of stem-like CRC cells (CRC-SCs) and induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, in both differentiated and CRC-SCs, at clinically relevant concentrations whose toxicity is negligible for non-neoplastic cells. Analysis of intracellular Ca2+ kinetics upon spiperone treatment revealed a massive phospholipase C (PLC)-dependent endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ release, resulting in ER Ca2+ homeostasis disruption. RNA sequencing revealed unfolded protein response (UPR) activation, ER stress, and induction of apoptosis, along with IRE1-dependent decay of mRNA (RIDD) activation. Lipidomic analysis showed a significant alteration of lipid profile and, in particular, of sphingolipids. Damage to the Golgi apparatus was also observed. Our data suggest that spiperone can represent an effective drug in the treatment of CRC, and that ER stress induction, along with lipid metabolism alteration, represents effective druggable pathways in CRC.