2-Cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-imidazolide (CDDO-Im) directly targets mitochondrial glutathione to induce apoptosis in pancreatic cancer. Academic Article uri icon


  • Surgical resection is the only curative strategy for pancreatic cancer (PC). Unfortunately, >80% of pancreatic cancer patients bear inoperable, locally advanced, chemoresistant tumors demonstrating the urgent need for development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat this disease. Here we report that the synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12 dioxooleana-1,9 dien-28-imidazolide (CDDO-Im) antagonizes PC cell growth by inducing apoptosis at submicromolar concentrations. Notably, we demonstrate for the first time that the cytotoxicity of CDDO-Im is accompanied by the rapid and selective depletion of mitochondrial glutathione that results in accumulation of reactive oxygen species, oxidation of the cellular glutathione pool, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and phosphatidylserine externalization. The parent compound CDDO as well as the methyl ester of CDDO also depleted mitochondrial glutathione, demonstrating that this effect is mediated by the triterpenoid nucleus of these agents. Co-treatment with sulfhydryl nucleophiles completely prevented apoptosis and loss of viability induced by CDDO-Im, whereas alkylation of intracellular thiols by diethylmaleate or co-treatment with dithiothreitol decreased the accumulation of a biotinylated derivative of CDDO, TP-301, in PC cells, suggesting that intracellular reduced thiols are functional targets of the electrophilic triterpenoid nucleus of CDDO and its derivatives. In conclusion, our report is the first to identify mitochondrial glutathione as a target of CDDO and its derivatives and demonstrates that depletion of this antioxidant in the mitochondria is an effective strategy to induce cell death in PC cells. These results suggest that CDDO and its derivatives may offer a clinical benefit for the treatment of PC.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Samudio, I., Konopleva, M., Hail, N., Shi, Y., McQueen, T., Hsu, T., ... Andreeff, M.

citation count

  • 93

complete list of authors

  • Samudio, Ismael||Konopleva, Marina||Hail, Numsen||Shi, Yue-Xi||McQueen, Teresa||Hsu, Timothy||Evans, Randall||Honda, Tadashi||Gribble, Gordon W||Sporn, Michael||Gilbert, Hiram F||Safe, Stephen||Andreeff, Michael

publication date

  • October 2005