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Mol Pharmacol. 2001 Dec;60(6):1268-79.

Cyclophosphamide induces caspase 9-dependent apoptosis in 9L tumor cells.

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Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Cyclophosphamide (CPA), a widely used oxazaphosphorine anti-cancer prodrug, is inactive until it is metabolized by cytochrome P450 to yield phosphoramide mustard and acrolein, which alkylate DNA and proteins, respectively. Tumor cells transduced with the human cytochrome P450 gene CYP2B6 are greatly sensitized to CPA, however, the pathway of CPA-induced cell death is unknown. The present study investigates the cytotoxic events induced by CPA in 9L gliosarcoma cells retrovirally transduced with CYP2B6, or induced in wild-type 9L cells treated with mafosfamide (MFA) or 4-hydroperoxyifosfamide (4OOH-IFA), chemically activated forms of CPA and its isomer ifosfamide. CPA and MFA were both shown to effect tumor cell death by stimulating apoptosis, as evidenced by the induction of plasma membrane blebbing, DNA fragmentation, and cleavage of the caspase 3 and caspase 7 substrate poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in drug-treated cells. Caspase 9 was identified as the regulatory upstream caspase activated in 9L cells treated with CPA, MFA, or 4OOH-IFA, implicating the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway in oxazaphosphorine-induced tumor cell death. Correspondingly, expression of the mitochondrial proapoptotic factor Bax enhanced caspase 9 activation, plasma membrane blebbing, and drug-induced cytotoxicity. Conversely, overexpression of the mitochondrial antiapoptotic factor Bcl-2 blocked caspase 9 activation, leading to an inhibition of drug-induced plasma membrane permeability and blebbing, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling positivity, PARP cleavage, Annexin V positivity, and drug-induced cell death. Although Bcl-2 thus blocked the cytotoxic effects of activated CPA, it did not inhibit the drug's cytostatic effects. CPA induced S-phase cell cycle arrest followed by conversion to an apoptotic pre-G1 state in wild-type 9L cells; by contrast, Bcl-2-expressing 9L cells accumulated in G2/M in response to CPA treatment. Intratumoral expression of Bcl-2 and related family members, including both apoptotic and antiapoptotic factors, is thus an important determinant of the responsiveness of tumor cells to CPA and ifosfamide, both in the context of conventional chemotherapy and in patients sensitized to these oxazaphosphorine drugs by the use of cytochrome P450-based gene therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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