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Cancer Biol Ther. 2007 Feb;6(2):278-87. Epub 2007 Feb 27.

Clinical and mechanistic aspects of glucocorticoid-induced chemotherapy resistance in the majority of solid tumors.

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Research Group Molecular OncoSurgery, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 365, Heidelberg 69120, Germany.



Glucocorticoids have been used widely in conjunction with cancer therapy due to their ability to induce apoptosis in hematological cells and to prevent nausea and emesis. However, recent data including ours, suggest induction of therapy-resistance by glucocorticoids in solid tumors, although it is unclear whether this happens only in few carcinomas or is a more common cell type specific phenomenon.


We performed an overall statistical analysis of our new and recent data with 157 tumor probes evaluated in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo. The effect of glucocorticoids on apoptosis, viability and cell cycle progression under diverse clinically important questions was examined.


New in vivo results demonstrate glucocorticoid-induced chemotherapy resistance in xenografted prostate cancer. In an overall statistical analysis we found glucocorticoid-induced resistance in 89% of 157 analysed tumor samples. Resistance is common for several cytotoxic treatments and for several glucocorticoid-derivatives and due to an inhibition of apoptosis, promotion of viability and cell cycle progression. Resistance occurred at clinically achievable peak plasma levels of patients under anti-emetic glucocorticoid therapy and below, lasted for a long time, after one single dose, but was reversible upon removal of glucocorticoids. Two nonsteroidal alternative anti-emetic agents did not counteract anticancer treatment and may be sufficient to replace glucocorticoids in cotreatment of carcinoma patients.


These data demonstrate the need for prospective clinical studies as well as for detailed mechanistic studies of GC-induced cell-type specific pro- and anti-apoptotic signalling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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