Lithocholic bile acid induces apoptosis in human nephroblastoma cells: a non-selective treatment option

Julian Trah, Jonas Arand, Jun Oh, Laia Pagerols-Raluy, Magdalena Trochimiuk, Birgit Appl, Hannah Heidelbach, Deirdre Vincent, Moin A Saleem, Konrad Reinshagen, Anne K Mühlig, Michael Boettcher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Lithocholic bile acid (LCA) has been reported to selectively kill cancer cells within many tumor cell lines including neuroblastoma or glioblastoma. Wilms' tumor shares similarities with neuro- and glioblastoma. Hence, the aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of LCA on nephroblastoma. To test the effects of LCA, nephroblastoma cell line WT CLS1 was used. SK NEP1 was tested as well. It was originally classified as a nephroblastoma cell line but was meanwhile reclassified as an ewing sarcoma cell line. As control cell lines HEK 293 from embryonic kidney and RC 124 from adult kidney tissue as well as podocytes were used. The effects were evaluated using proliferation assay, caspase activity assay, FACS and Western blot. LCA showed a dose and time-dependent selective effect inducing apoptosis in nephroblastoma cells. However, these effects were not limited to the nephroblastoma cell line but also affected control kidney cell lines and the sarcoma cells; only podocytes are significantly less affected by LCA (at dosages < 200 µm). There were no significant differences regarding the TGR5 receptor expression. The study showed that LCA has a strong, yet unselective effect on all used in vitro cell-lines, sparing the highly differentiated podocytes in lower concentrations. Further studies are needed to verify our results before dismissing LCA as an anti-cancer drug.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20349
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020


  • paediatric cancer
  • paediatric research


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