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BMC Cancer. 2005 Jan 7;5:2.

Doxorubicin increases the effectiveness of Apo2L/TRAIL for tumor growth inhibition of prostate cancer xenografts.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA. <>



Prostate cancer is a significant health problem among American men. Treatment strategies for androgen-independent cancer are currently not available. Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (Apo2L/TRAIL) is a death receptor ligand that can induce apoptosis in a variety of cancer cell lines, including androgen-independent PC3 prostate carcinoma cells. In vitro, TRAIL-mediated apoptosis of prostate cancer cell lines can be enhanced by doxorubicin and correlates with the downregulation of the anti-apoptotic protein c-FLIP. This study evaluated the effects of doxorubicin on c-FLIP expression and tumor growth in combination with Apo2L/TRAIL in a xenograft model.


In vitro cytotoxic effects of TRAIL were measured using a MTS-based viability assay. For in vivo studies, PC3 prostate carcinoma cells were grown subcutaneously in athymic nude mice and tumor growth was measured following treatment with doxorubicin and/or Apo2L/TRAIL. c-FLIP expression was determined by western blot analysis. Apoptosis in xenografts was detected using TUNEL. Statistical analysis was performed using the student t-test.


In vitro experiments show that PC3 cells are partially susceptible to Apo2L/TRAIL and that susceptibility is enhanced by doxorubicin. In mice, doxorubicin did not significantly affect the growth of PC3 xenografts but reduced c-FLIP expression in tumors. Expression of c-FLIP in mouse heart was decreased only at the high doxorubicin concentration (8 mg/kg). Combination of doxorubicin with Apo2L/TRAIL resulted in more apoptotic cell death and tumor growth inhibition than Apo2L/TRAIL alone.


Combination of doxorubicin and Apo2L/TRAIL is more effective in growth inhibition of PC3 xenografts in vivo than either agent alone and could present a novel treatment strategy against hormone-refractory prostate cancer. The intracellular mechanism by which doxorubicin enhances the effect of Apo2L/TRAIL on PC3 xenografts may be by reducing expression of c-FLIP.

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