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Ann Oncol. 1999 Sep;10(9):1011-21.

p53 and chemosensitivity.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, University Hospital Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Although hematologic malignancies and some solid tumors such as germ cell tumors and pediatric malignancies can be cured by cytotoxic treatment, the most prevalent solid tumors are relatively resistant to these interventions. Apoptosis is involved in the cell kill of anticancer drugs and p53 is believed to be of principal importance in this process. However p53 also plays a role in cell cycle arrest and DNA repair, cellular processes that can decrease the sensitivity to chemotherapy. Therefore, p53 may play a dual role after exposure to cytotoxic treatment, activating either mechanisms that lead to apoptosis or launching processes directing to DNA repair and survival of the cell.


In this article, we review in details the p53 functions involved in the mediation of chemosensitivity. The preclinical and clinical data published in the recent years about the relation between p53 and chemosensitivity are discussed and the potential pitfalls associated to most of these studies, and that may account for the contradictory results produced so far are also mentioned.

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