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Cell Cycle. 2009 Nov 15;8(22):3723-8. Epub 2009 Nov 8.

Chemotherapy induces ATP release from tumor cells.

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INSERM, U848, Villejuif, France; Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.

Erratum in

  • Cell Cycle. 2012 Oct 15;11(20):3901.


Chemotherapy can induce anticancer immune responses. In contrast to a widely extended prejudice, apoptotic cell death is often more efficient in eliciting a protective anticancer immune response than necrotic cell death. Recently, we have found that purinergic receptors of the P2X7 type are required for the anticancer immune response induced by chemotherapy. ATP is the endogenous ligand that has the highest affinity for P2X7. Therefore, we investigated the capacity of a panel of chemotherapeutic agents to induce ATP release from cancer cells. Here, we describe that multiple distinct anticancer drugs reduce the intracellular concentration of ATP before and during the manifestation of apoptotic characteristics such as the dissipation of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential and the exposure of phosphatidylserine residues on the plasma membrane. Indeed, as apoptosis progresses, intracellular ATP concentrations decrease, although even advanced-stage apoptotic cells still contain sizeable ATP levels. Only when cells enter secondary necrosis, the ATP concentration falls to undetectable levels. Concomitantly, a wide range of chemotherapeutic agents causes the release of ATP into the extracellular space as they induce tumor cell death. Hence, ATP release is a general correlate of apoptotic cell death induced by conventional anticancer therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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