Antiparkinson drug benztropine suppresses tumor growth, circulating tumor cells, and metastasis by acting on SLC6A3/dat and reducing STAT3

Chiharu Sogawa, Takanori Eguchi, Manh Tien Tran, Masayuki Ishige, Kilian Trin, Yuka Okusya, Eman Ahmed Taha, Yanyin Lu, Hotaka Kawai, Norio Sogawa, Masaharu Takigawa, Stuart K. Calderwood, Kuniaki Okamoto, Ken-ichi Kozaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Tumor growth, progression, and therapy resistance are crucial factors in the prognosis of cancer. The properties of three-dimensional (3D) tumor-like organoids (tumoroids) more closely resemble in vivo tumors compared to two-dimensionally cultured cells and are therefore effectively used for assays and drug screening. We here established a repurposed drug for novel anticancer research and therapeutics using a 3D tumoroid-based screening system. We screened six pharmacologically active compounds by using an original tumoroid-based multiplex phenotypic screening system with a matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) promoter-driven fluorescence reporter for the evaluation of both tumoroid formation and progression. The antiparkinson drug benztropine was the most effective compound uncovered by the screen. Benztropine significantly inhibited in vitro tumoroid formation, cancer cell survival, and MMP9 promoter activity. Benztropine also reduced the activity of oncogenic signaling transducers and trans-activators for MMP9, including STAT3, NF-κB, and β-catenin, and the properties of cancer stem cells/cancer-initiating cells. Benztropine and GBR-12935 directly targeted the dopamine transporter DAT/SLC6A3, whose genetic alterations such as amplification were correlated with poor prognosis for cancer patients. Benztropine also inhibited the tumor growth, circulating tumor cell (CTC) number, and rate of metastasis in a tumor allograft model in mice. In conclusion, we propose the repurposing of benztropine for anticancer research and therapeutics that can suppress tumor progression, CTC, and metastasis of aggressive cancers by reducing key pro-tumorigenic factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number523
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Benztropine
  • Circulating tumor cell (CTC)
  • Dopamine transporter (DAT)
  • Drug repositioning/repurposing
  • Signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)
  • Three-dimensional (3D) culture
  • Tumoroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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