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Cancer Res. 2001 Feb 15;61(4):1314-9.

Resistance to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells correlates with a loss of caspase-8 expression.

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Division of Oncology, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Disruption of apoptotic pathways may be involved in tumor formation, regression, and treatment resistance of neuroblastoma (NB). Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a potent inducer of apoptosis in cancer cell lines, whereas normal cells are not sensitive to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. In this study we analyzed the expression and function of TRAIL and its agonistic and antagonistic receptors as well as expression of cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein and caspase-2, -3, -8, -9, and -10 in 18 NB cell lines. Semiquantitative RT-PCR revealed that TRAIL-R2 and TRAIL-R3 are the main TRAIL-receptors used by NB cells. Sensitivity to TRAIL-induced apoptosis did not correlate with mRNA expression of TRAIL receptors or cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein. Surprisingly, caspase-8 and caspase-10 mRNA expression was detected in only 5 of 18 NB cell lines. Interestingly, only these five NB cell lines were susceptible to TRAIL-induced apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine restored mRNA and protein expression of caspase-8 and TRAIL sensitivity of resistant cell lines, suggesting that gene methylation is involved in caspase inactivation. The TRAIL system seems to be functional in NB cells expressing caspase-8 and/or caspase-10. Because many cytotoxic drugs induce caspase-dependent apoptosis, failure to express caspase-8 and/or caspase-10 might be an important mechanism of resistance to chemotherapy in NB.

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