Riluzole suppresses growth and enhances response to endocrine therapy in ER+ breast cancer

Hillary Stires, Ayodeji O. Olukoya, Shihong Ma, Sonali Persaud, Yanira Guerra, M. Idalia Cruz, Carlos Benitez, Aaron Rozeboom, Hannah Ceuleers, Deborah L. Berry, Britta M. Jacobsen, Ganesh V. Raj, Rebecca B. Riggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Resistance to endocrine therapy in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer remains a significant clinical problem. Riluzole is FDA-approved for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A benzothiazole-based glutamate release inhibitor with several context-dependent mechanism(s) of action, Riluzole has shown anti-tumor activity in multiple malignancies, including melanoma, glioblastoma, and breast cancer. In several (but not all) of these studies, Riluzole-mediated growth inhibition is attributed to increased expression of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs, GRMs). We recently reported that acquisition of Tamoxifen resistance in a cellular model of invasive lobular breast cancer is accompanied by the upregulation of GRM mRNA expression and growth inhibition by Riluzole. Methods. In the current study, we tested the ability of Riluzole to reduce cell growth, alone and in combination with endocrine therapy, in a diverse set of ER+ invasive ductal and lobular breast cancer-derived cell lines, primary breast tumor explant cultures, and the estrogen-independent, ESR1-mutated invasive lobular breast cancer patient-derived xenograft model HCI-013EI. Results. Single-agent Riluzole suppressed the growth of ER+ invasive ductal and lobular breast cancer cell lines in vitro, inducing a histologic subtype-associated cell cycle arrest (G0-G1 for ductal, G2-M for lobular). In an invasive lobular, endocrine resistant model, Riluzole induced apoptosis and reduced phosphorylation of multiple pro-survival signaling molecules, including Akt/mTOR, CREB, and Src/Fak family kinases. Riluzole in combination with either Fulvestrant or 4-hydroxytamoxifen additively or synergistically suppressed ER+ breast cancer cell growth in vitro. The combination of Riluzole plus Fulvestrant significantly reduced proliferation in primary breast tumor explant cultures, and inhibited HCI-013EI xenograft growth in vivo significantly earlier than Fulvestrant alone. Conclusions. These findings suggest Riluzole combined with endocrine therapy may offer therapeutic benefit in diverse ER+ breast cancers, including lobular breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jul 30 2020


  • Estrogen receptor
  • Fulvestrant
  • Invasive lobular breast cancer
  • Riluzole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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