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Apoptosis. 1999 Aug;4(4):271-81.

Sustained suppression of Fas ligand expression in cisplatin-resistant human ovarian surface epithelial cancer cells.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Although cisplatin derivatives are first line chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of ovarian epithelial cancer, chemoresistance is a major therapeutic problem. Although the cytotoxic effect of these agents are believed to be mediated through the induction of apoptosis, the role of the Fas/FasL system in chemoresistance in human ovarian epithelial cancer is not fully understood. In the present study, we have used cultures of established cell lines of cisplatin-sensitive human ovarian epithelial tumours (OV2008 and A2780-s) and their resistant variants (C13* adn A2780-cp, respectively) to asses the role of Fas/FasL system in the chemo-responsiveness of ovarian cancer cell to cisplatin. Cisplatin was effective in inducing the expression of cell-associated Fas and FasL, soluble FasL and apoptosis in concentration and time-dependent fashion in both cisplatin-sensitive cell lines (OV2008 and A2780-s). In contrast, while cisplatin was effective in increasing cell-associated Fas protein content in C13*, it failed to up-regulate FasL (cell-associated and soluble forms) and induce apoptosis, irrespective of concentration and duration of cisplatin treatment. Concentrated spent media for OV208 cultures after cisplatin treatment were effective in inducing apoptosis in C13* cells which was partly inhibited by the antagonistic Fas monoclonal antibody (mAb) suggesting that the soluble FasL present in the spent media was biologically active. In the resistant A2780-cp cells, neither Fas nor FasL upregulation were evident in the presence of the chemotherapeutic agent and apoptosis remained low compared to its sensitive counterpart. Activation of the Fas signalling pathway, by addition to the cultures an agonistic Fas mAb, was equally effective in inducing apoptosis in the cisplatin-sensitive (OV2008) and -resistant variant C13*, although these responses were of lower magnitude compared to that observed with cisplatin in the chemosensitive cells. A significant interaction between cisplatin and agonistic Fas mAb was observed in the apoptotic response in OV2008 and C13* when cultured in the presence of both agents. Immunohistochemistry of human ovarian epithelial carcinomas reveals the presence of Fas in low abundance in proliferatively active cells but in high levels in quiescent ones. Although the expression pattern of FasL in the tumour was similar to tha tof Fas, the protein content was considerably lower. Taken together, these data suggest that the dysregulation of the Fas/FasL system may be an important determinant in cisplatin-resistance in ovarian epithelial cancer cells. Our results are also supportive of the notion that combined immuno- and chemo-therapy (i.e., agonistic Fas mAb plus cisplatin) may provide added benefits in the treatment of both chemo-sensitive and -resistant ovarian tumours.


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