Mebendazole and radiation in combination increase survival through anticancer mechanisms in an intracranial rodent model of malignant meningioma

Christine G. Skibinski, Tara Williamson, Gregory J. Riggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Meningiomas are a frequent tumor of the central nervous system. Although mostly benign, approximately 5% present as atypical or malignant tumors. Treatments for atypical meningiomas include gross total resection and radiotherapy, but about 33% of patients have recurrent tumors, sometimes as a higher grade. Recently, the brain penetrant anthelmintic drug, mebendazole, has shown promise as an anticancer agent in rodent models of glioblastoma and medulloblastoma. Methods: The half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) effect on colony formation, cell proliferation, and caspase-3/7 markers of apoptosis of mebendazole with and without radiation was measured in vitro. Mice intracranially implanted with KT21MG1 human meningioma were administered mebendazole alone or in combination with radiation. Survival benefit was evaluated, while tumors were investigated by immunohistochemical staining for apoptosis, cell proliferation, and vascular density. Results: In vitro experiments on meningioma cell lines showed the IC50 for mebendazole in the range of 0.26–0.42 µM. Mebendazole alone induced cytotoxicity, however the combination had a greater reduction in colony formation and resulted in higher levels of cleaved caspase-3. The in vivo study showed both, mebendazole alone and the combination, to have a survival benefit with an increase in apoptosis, and decreases in tumor cell and vascular proliferation. Conclusion: These preclinical findings indicate that mebendazole alone or in combination with radiation can be considered for the treatment of malignant meningioma. The mechanism of action for this combination may include an increase in apoptosis, a reduction in proliferation and angiogenesis, or a combination of these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-538
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neuro-oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 15 2018


  • Brain
  • Mebendazole
  • Meningioma
  • Preclinical
  • Radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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