Betulinic acid shows anticancer activity against equine melanoma cells and permeates isolated equine skin in vitro
BACKGROUND:Equine malignant melanoma (EMM) is a frequently occurring dermoepidermal tumor in grey horses. Currently available therapies are either challenging or inefficient. Betulinic acid (BA), a naturally occurring triterpenoid, is a promising compound for cancer treatment. To evaluate the potential of BA as a topical therapy for EMM, its anticancer effects on primary equine melanoma cells and dermal fibroblasts and its percutaneous permeation through isolated equine skin were assessed in vitro. RESULTS:BA showed antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects on both primary equine melanoma cells and fibroblasts in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The lowest half-maximal inhibitory concentrations were obtained 96 h after the beginning of drug exposure (12.7 μmol/L and 23.6 μmol/L for melanoma cells eRGO1 and MelDuWi, respectively, in cytotoxicity assay). High concentrations of the compound were reached in the required skin layers in vitro. CONCLUSION:BA is a promising substance for topical EMM treatment. Further clinical studies in horses are necessary to assess safety and antitumoral effects in vivo.