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J Biol Chem. 2002 Dec 20;277(51):49870-6. Epub 2002 Sep 25.

Ganglioside GD3 sensitizes human hepatoma cells to cancer therapy.

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  • 1Liver Unit, Instituto de Malalties Digestives, Servicio de Radioterapia, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, Instituto Investigaciones Biomedicas August Pi, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Barcelona 08036, Spain.


Ganglioside GD3 (GD3) has emerged as a modulator of cell death pathways due to its ability to interact with mitochondria and disable survival pathways. Because NF-kappaB activation contributes to cancer therapy resistance, this study was undertaken to test whether GD3 modulates the response of human hepatoblastoma HepG2 cells to radio- and chemotherapy. NF-kappaB was activated in HepG2 cells shortly after therapeutic doses of ionizing radiation or daunorubicin treatment that translated into up-regulation of kappaB-dependent genes. These effects were accompanied by minimal killing of HepG2 cells by either ionizing radiation or daunorubicin. However, GD3 pretreatment blocked the nuclear translocation of active kappaB members, without effect on Akt phosphorylation, induced by either treatment. The suppression of kappaB-dependent gene induction by GD3 was accompanied by enhanced apoptotic cell death caused by these therapies. Furthermore, the combination of GD3 plus ionizing radiation stimulated the formation of reactive species followed by the mitochondrial release of cytochrome c and Smac/Diablo and caspase 3 activation. Pretreatment with cyclosporin A before radiotherapy protected HepG2 cells from the therapeutic combination of GD3 plus ionizing radiation. These findings underscore a key role of mitochondria in the response of tumor cells to cancer therapy and highlight the potential relevance of GD3 to overcome resistance to cancer therapy by combining its dual action as a mitochondria-interacting and NF-kappaB-inactivating agent.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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