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Neuroscience - Oncology - Pharmacology

Bioluminescence-Based High-Throughput Screen Identifies Pharmacological Agents That Target Neurotransmitter Signaling in Small Cell Lung Carcinoma
Published: Thursday, September 08, 2011
Author: Ma. Reina D. Improgo et al.

by Ma. Reina D. Improgo, Christopher W. Johnson, Andrew R. Tapper, Paul D. Gardner


Frontline treatment of small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) relies heavily on chemotherapeutic agents and radiation therapy. Though SCLC patients respond well to initial cycles of chemotherapy, they eventually develop resistance. Identification of novel therapies against SCLC is therefore imperative.

Methods and Findings

We have designed a bioluminescence-based cell viability assay for high-throughput screening of anti-SCLC agents. The assay was first validated via standard pharmacological agents and RNA interference using two human SCLC cell lines. We then utilized the assay in a high-throughput screen using the LOPAC1280 compound library. The screening identified several drugs that target classic cancer signaling pathways as well as neuroendocrine markers in SCLC. In particular, perturbation of dopaminergic and serotonergic signaling inhibits SCLC cell viability.


The convergence of our pharmacological data with key SCLC pathway components reiterates the importance of neurotransmitter signaling in SCLC etiology and points to possible leads for drug development.