Enhanced Erythrocyte Membrane Exposure of Phosphatidylserine Following Sorafenib Treatment: Anin vivoandin vitroStudy Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Sorafenib (Nexavar(®)), a polytyrosine kinase inhibitor, stimulates apoptosis and is thus widely used for chemotherapy in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hematological side effects of Nexavar(®) chemotherapy include anemia. Erythrocytes may undergo apoptosis-like suicidal death or eryptosis, which is characterized by cell shrinkage and phosphatidylserine-exposure at the cell surface. Signaling leading to eryptosis include increase in cytosolic Ca(2+)activity ([Ca(2+)](i)), formation of ceramide, ATP-depletion and oxidative stress. The present study explored, whether sorafenib triggers eryptosis in vitro and in vivo. METHODS: [Ca(2+)](i )was estimated from Fluo3-fluorescence, cell volume from forward scatter, phosphatidylserine-exposure from annexin-V-binding, hemolysis from hemoglobin release, ceramide with antibody binding-dependent fluorescence, cytosolic ATP with a luciferin-luciferase-based assay, and oxidative stress from 2',7' dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (DCFDA) fluorescence. RESULTS: A 48 h exposure of erythrocytes to sorafenib (≥0.5 µM) significantly increased Fluo 3 fluorescence, decreased forward scatter, increased annexin-V-binding and triggered slight hemolysis (≥5 µM), but did not significantly modify ceramide abundance and cytosolic ATP. Sorafenib treatment significantly enhanced DCFDA-fluorescence and the reducing agents N-acetyl-L-cysteine and tiron significantly blunted sorafenib-induced phosphatidylserine exposure. Nexavar(®) chemotherapy in HCC patients significantly enhanced the number of phosphatidylserine-exposing erythrocytes. CONCLUSIONS: The present observations disclose novel effects of sorafenib, i.e. stimulation of suicidal erythrocyte death or eryptosis, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of anemia in Nexavar(®)-based chemotherapy.


  • Lupescu, Adrian
  • Shaik, Nazneen
  • Jilani, Kashif
  • Zelenak, Christine
  • Lang, Elisabeth
  • Pasham, Venkanna
  • Zbidah, Mohanad
  • Plate, Ansgar
  • Bitzer, Michael
  • Föller, Michael
  • Qadri, Syed
  • Lang, Florian

publication date

  • 2012