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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Sensitization of cancer cells treated with cytotoxic drugs to fas-mediated cytotoxicity.

BACKGROUND: The transmembrane receptor Fas, together with its protein-binding partner (Fas ligand), is a key regulator of programmed cell death (i.e., apoptosis). Fas and Fas ligand also influence the ability of cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells to eliminate tumor cells. However, by inducing apoptosis in activated T cells, the Fas/Fas ligand system may protect some tumor cells from clearance by the immune system. Anticancer drugs enhance Fas ligand expression on the surface of Fas receptor-expressing leukemia cells, thus suggesting that apoptosis caused by these drugs may be mediated via the Fas/Fas ligand system. PURPOSE: This study was conducted to further investigate the relationship between the modulation of Fas receptor gene and protein expression by treatment of cells with cytotoxic drugs and the immune clearance of tumor cells. METHODS: Fas expression on human HT29 colon carcinoma cells treated with a variety of anticancer drugs (cisplatin, doxorubicin, mitomycin C, fluorouracil, and camptothecin) was analyzed by use of quantitative flow cytometry. Human HCT8R and HCT116 colon carcinoma cells and human U937 leukemia cells were treated with cisplatin only and analyzed in the same way. Fas ligand messenger RNA and protein levels were studied by use of a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay and by flow cytometry. Fas gene expression and messenger RNA levels in cisplatin-treated HT29 cells were characterized by use of in vitro nuclear run-on and northern blot hybridization assays. The cytotoxic activities of agonistic anti-Fas antibodies, Fas ligand, and allogeneic peripheral blood leukocytes, in the absence or presence of Fas-blocking monoclonal antibodies, against tumor cells were assessed by methylene blue staining and chromium-51 release assays. RESULTS: Clinically relevant concentrations of cisplatin, doxorubicin, mitomycin C, fluorouracil, or camptothecin enhanced Fas receptor expression on the plasma membrane of HT29 cells. Cisplatin-mediated increases in Fas expression were confirmed in HCT8R, HCT116, and U937 cells. The enhancement of Fas protein expression was associated with an increased sensitivity of cisplatin-treated tumor cells to agonistic anti-Fas antibodies, to soluble Fas ligand, and to allogeneic peripheral blood leukocyte-mediated cytotoxicity. Each of these effects was blocked by co-treatment of the cells with antagonistic anti-Fas antibody. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: In addition to their direct cytotoxic effects, chemotherapeutic drugs sensitize tumor cells to Fas-mediated cytotoxicity and Fas-dependent immune clearance. On the basis of these findings, new strategies might be developed to improve the efficacy of these drugs.[1]


  1. Sensitization of cancer cells treated with cytotoxic drugs to fas-mediated cytotoxicity. Micheau, O., Solary, E., Hammann, A., Martin, F., Dimanche-Boitrel, M.T. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. (1997) [Pubmed]
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