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Biol Pharm Bull. 2000 Apr;23(4):420-6.

Activation of NF-kappaB determines the sensitivity of human colon cancer cells to TNFalpha-induced apoptosis.

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Department of Microbiology, Institute for Immunology and Immunological Diseases, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) generates a potent cytotoxic effect, however many cancer cells are resistant to TNFalpha-mediated killing and the cause of the differential sensitivity remains to be elucidated. In this study, we demonstrated that TNFalpha induced cell death in four different human colon cancer cell lines. The degree of cytotoxic effect was different in each cell line, in that HCT-15 was relatively sensitive, while DLD-1, HT-29 and WiDr were relatively resistant. TNFalpha induced apoptotic changes such as morphological changes, DNA fragmentation and activation of caspase-3 in HCT-15, but to a lesser degree in the others. Transcriptional expression of TNFR1(p55), as well as that of FLICE, Fas, FADD, DR3, FAF, TRADD, and RIP was similar in these cell lines, indicating that the susceptibility to TNFalpha-induced apoptosis may not be determined by the constitutive expression level of these factors. Interestingly, the cytotoxic effect of TNFalpha was well correlated with the DNA binding activity of NF-kappaB in the colon cancer cell lines. Further, the overexpression of a non-phosphorylated mutant form of IkappaBalpha enhanced the cytotoxicity of TNFalpha in the resistant cell line, DLD-1, indicating that NF-kappaB activity may determine the sensitivity of colon cancer cells to TNFalpha-induced apoptosis. Thus, our results indicate that modulation of NF-kappaB activity may provide a useful tool to sensitize colon cancer cells to TNFalpha treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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