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Br J Cancer. 2003 May 19;88(10):1649-58.

Delayed expression of apoptosis in human lymphoma cells undergoing low-dose taxol-induced mitotic stress.

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Cancer Research Wales Laboratories, Velindre NHS Trust, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 2TL, Wales, UK.


The links between low-dose range taxol-induced mitotic arrest and the subsequent engagement of apoptosis are important for identifying the routes to therapeutic action. Here we have investigated the timing of cell-cycle perturbation and cell death responses following continuous exposure to clinically relevant drug concentrations (1-20 nM). Following 8 h of exposure to taxol, the cell line DoHH2 (p53 wild type) exhibited mitotic arrest and engagement of apoptosis, whereas the cell line SU-DHL-4 (p53 mutant) breached cell-cycle arrest with progression to an abnormal cycle and a 24 h delay in the engagement of apoptosis. Imaging showed equivalent dysfunction of mitotic spindles in both cell lines. The results of kinetic analyses indicated that although cell death may occur at different stages of progression through mitosis and subsequent cell cycles, the overall kinetics of cell death relate to the rate of arrival at a critical event window in the cell cycle. We propose a simple model of low-dose taxol-induced cell death for cycling populations in which mitotic stress acts as a primary trigger for apoptosis with equivalent but potentially delayed outcomes. This view provides a rationale for the clinical effectiveness of this agent, independent of the initial capacity of the tumour cell to engage apoptosis due, for example, to mutant p53 expression. The results provide a perspective for the design of combination regimens that include low-dose taxol and a component that may disturb mitotic delivery.

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