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Int J Oncol. 2005 Nov;27(5):1247-55.

Enhancement of the caspase-independent apoptotic sensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells by DHMEQ, an NF-kappaB inhibitor.

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Department of Surgery, Tokyo Metropolitan Komagome Hospital, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8677, Japan.


The effects of the nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB inhibitor, dehydroxymethylepoxyquinomicin (DHMEQ), combined with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha were evaluated in PK-8 pancreatic cancer cells. NF-kappaB was activated by TNF-alpha; however, the administration of DHMEQ abrogated its transcriptional activity. The addition of DHMEQ to TNF-alpha markedly induced apoptosis in PK-8 cells with down-regulation of anti-apoptotic c-FLIP and survivin. Combined treatment significantly suppressed cell viability in vitro, and the anti-tumor effect of DHMEQ was also significant in vivo. We investigated the apoptosis signaling pathway involved in these cell killing effects. Truncated Bid was produced by activated caspase-8, and the subsequent depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane potential (Delta Psi m) peaked at 6 h. Then, the activity of caspase-3 was up-regulated 8-fold. Z-VAD-fmk (a pan-caspase inhibitor) perfectly inhibited the up-regulation of caspase-3 but failed to reverse the cell viability. The above findings indicated that the growth inhibitory effect of combined treatment largely depended on mitochondria-associated caspase-independent apoptosis. The intracellular behavior of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) following depolarization of Delta Psi m suggested that AIF executed such a caspase-independent apoptosis. Interestingly, caspase-dependent apoptosis appeared within 6 h, whereas the caspase-independent apoptosis lagged. Thus, the addition of DHMEQ to TNF-alpha was capable of inducing caspase-independent apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells. Once caspase-independent apoptosis was induced, the apoptosis demonstrated powerful cytotoxicity. Therefore, DHMEQ in combination with TNF-alpha may be a promising treatment for pancreatic cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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