data_sheet_9_Activating Autophagy Enhanced the Antitumor Effect of Antibody Drug Conjugates Rituximab-Monomethyl Auristatin E.PDF


Antibody drug conjugate (ADC) showed potent therapeutic efficacy in several types of cancers. The role of autophagy in antitumor effects of ADC remains unclear.


In this study, the ADC, Rituximab-monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE) with a Valine–Citrulline cleavable linker, was designed to investigate its therapeutic efficacy against non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) as well as the underlying mechanisms. Methylthiazolyldiphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) was used to detect growth inhibition in B-cell lymphoma cell lines, Ramos and Daudi cells, which were treated by Rituximab-MMAE alone or combined with autophagy conditioner. Apoptosis was detected by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry, and apoptosis inhibitor was employed to discover the relationship between autophagy and apoptosis during the Rituximab-MMAE treatment. Autophagy was determined by three standard techniques which included confocal microscope, transmission electron microscope, and western blots. Ramos xenograft tumors in BALB/c nude mice were established to investigate the antitumor effect of combination use of Rituximab-MMAE and autophagy conditioner in B-NHL therapy.


Our results showed that Rituximab-MMAE elicited caspase-3-dependent apoptosis in NHL cells and exhibited potent therapeutic efficacy in vivo. Autophagy, which was characterized by upregulated light chain 3-II expression, and accumulation of autophagosomes, was triggered during the Rituximab-MMAE treatment. Meanwhile, inactivation of Akt/mTOR pathway was shown to be involved in the autophagy triggered by Rituximab-MMAE, indicating a probable mechanism of the ADC-initiated autophagy. Importantly, inhibition of autophagy by chloroquine suppressed the Rituximab-MMAE-induced apoptosis, while activating autophagy by rapamycin significantly enhanced the therapeutic effect of Rituximab-MMAE both in vitro and in vivo.


Our data elucidated the critical relationship between autophagy and apoptosis in Rituximab-MMAE-based therapy and highlighted the potential approach for NHL therapy by combined administration of the ADC and autophagy activator.