Death receptor targeting is an attractive approach in experimental treatment for tumors such as malignant gliomas, which are resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. Among the family of cytokines referred to as death li gands, tumor necrosis factor–related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) has attracted clinical interest. The aim of this study was to assess whether TRAIL can be used as an adjuvant to temozolomide (TMZ) for apoptosis induction in malignant glioma cell lines.
Six human malignant glioma cell lines (A172, U87, U251, T98, U343, and U373) were exposed to human (h)TRAIL, TMZ, or an hTRAIL/TMZ combined treatment. Cell viability was assayed using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazole-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and phase-contrast microscopy. Cell apoptosis was detected using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling technique and quantified using flow cytometric analysis. The apoptosis signaling cascade was studied with Western blotting.
The additive effects of hTRAIL and TMZ resulted in a significant decrease in cell viability and an increased apoptotic rate. Expression of the death receptors DR5 and DR4 in two cell lines (A172 and U251) upregulated significantly when they were used in combination hTRAIL/TMZ treatment (p < 0.05 compared with baseline control), leading to activation of caspase-8 and caspase-3 (p < 0.05 compared with baseline control) and confirming an extrinsic apoptotic pathway. A cell intrinsic pathway through mitochondrial cytochrome c was not activated.
Based on this work, one may infer that hTRAIL should be considered as an adjuvant treatment for TMZ-resistant human malignant gliomas.
Abbreviations used in this paper:hTRAIL = human tumor necrosis factor–related apoptosis-inducing ligand; MTT = 3-(4,5-dimethyl-thiazole-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide; SDS = sodium dodecyl sulfate; TBST = Tris-buffered saline with Tween 20; TMZ = temozolomide; TUNEL = terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling.
Address reprint requests to: Isabelle Germano, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Annenberg 8-90, 1 Gustave Levy Place, Box 1136, New York, New York 10029. email:
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