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Cancer Res. 1999 Jul 15;59(14):3429-32.

Enhanced apoptotic response to photodynamic therapy after bcl-2 transfection.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


Apoptosis is a cellular death process involving the sequential activation of a series of caspases, endonucleases, and other enzymes. The initiation of apoptosis can be inhibited by overexpression of bcl-2 and certain other members of a related family of proteins. We examined the effects of bcl-2 overexpression on the apoptotic response to photodynamic therapy (PDT), using aluminum phthalocyanine as the photosensitizing agent. In this study, we compared the immortalized human breast epithelial cell line MCF10A with a subline (MCF10A/bcl-2) transfected with the human bcl-2 gene. The latter was approximately 2-fold more sensitive to the phototoxic effects of PDT. At a 50 mJ/cm2 light dose, photodamage to MCF-10A/bcl-2 resulted in a greater loss of the mitochondrial membrane potential (delta(psi)m), enhanced release of mitochondrial cytochrome c, a more rapid and greater activation of caspase-3, and a greater apoptotic response. Western blot analysis revealed that the transfected cell line showed overexpression of both bcl-2 and bax, and that PDT caused selective destruction of bcl-2, leaving bax unaffected. The greater apoptotic response by the transfected line is, therefore, attributed to the higher bax:bcl-2 ratio after photodamage.

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