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Apoptosis. 1999 Jun;4(3):187-96.

Cytokines as suppressors of apoptosis.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Many cytokines have been isolated by their ability to induce growth and have been called growth factors. But these cytokines are also essential to induce cell viability, and cell viability and growth can be separately regulated. Using as examples myeloid hematopoietic cells, lymphocytes and neuronal cells, in vitro and in vivo studies have shown the role of cytokines in inducing viability of different cell types during development to mature cells. Some cytokines can act on more than one cell type. Cytokines induce viability of normal and cancer cells by suppressing the apoptotic machinery activated by wild-type p53, or by cytotoxic agents including irradiation and compounds used in cancer chemotherapy. Cytokines can be used to decrease apoptosis in normal cells and inhibition of cytokine activity may improve cancer therapy by enhancing apoptosis in cancer cells. The apoptosis suppressing function of cytokines is mediated by changing the balance in the activity of apoptosis inducing and suppressing genes. Apoptosis suppression is upstream of caspase activation in the apoptotic process. Cytokines can suppress multiple pathways leading to apoptosis, only some of which were suppressed by other agents such as some antioxidants, Ca(2+)-mobilizing compounds and protease inhibitors.


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