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Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2002 Sep;20(3):167-73.

Synergistic cytotoxicity and apoptosis induced in human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines by a combined treatment with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and triptolide.

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Laboratory of Immunology, Chulabhorn Research Institute, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10210, Thailand.


Cholangiocarcinoma is known to be relatively resistant to chemotherapy. One alternative approach is to use a combination of an immunomodulating agent with an anticancer drug. Here we studied the synergistic actions of TNF-alpha and triptolide (a diterpene epoxide prepared from Tripterygium wilfordii), previously shown to have antitumor activity against hamster cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) cells. Three human CCA cell lines (HuCCA-1, HubCCA-1, KKU-100 cell lines) were subjected to a combined treatment of TNF-alpha (0.1-10 ng/ml) and triptolide (5-50 ng/ml) for 24 hours in microculture plates. The combination of TNF-alpha and triptolide had a significantly increased cytotoxic activity over that of triptolide alone (p < 0.05). Under the same conditions, TNF-alpha by itself was not cytotoxic to these cell lines. Similarly, the combined treatment could also accelerate apoptotic cell death in all three human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines. The combined treatment of TNF-alpha at 10 ng/ml and triptolide at 50 ng/ml for 6-10 hours achieved a percentage of apoptotic cells shown by DAPI staining of 18-65%, compared to only 6-20% apoptotic cells for triptolide alone. Analyzing the possible mechanisms of the combined treatment, we found by Western blot that at 6 hours, there was a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage which was not detectable by the treatment of either TNF-alpha or triptolide alone. The cleavage of PARP was inhibited when the cells were pretreated with the enzyme inhibitor AC-DEVD-CMK, suggesting that apoptosis induced by the combination of TNF-alpha and triptolide involved activation of caspase 3. These results indicate that apoptosis of human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines as induced by a combination of TNF-alpha and triptolide is mediated through caspase 3 activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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