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Neuro Oncol. 2011 Jul;13(7):725-35. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nor053.

Is there a common upstream link for autophagic and apoptotic cell death in human high-grade gliomas?

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Department of Neurosurgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


The prognosis of patients with human high-grade gliomas (HGGs) remains dismal despite major advances in their management, due mainly to the high resistance of these infiltrative tumor cells to programmed cell death (PCD). Most therapeutic strategies for HGGs are aimed to maximize PCD type I, apoptosis or type II, autophagy. These are predominantly distinctive processes, but many studies suggest a cross-talk between the two. A better understanding of the link between PCD types I and II might allow development of more effective therapies for HGGs. In this study, we examined whether there is a common upstream signaling event responsible for both apoptotic and autophagic PCD using 3 chemotherapeutic agents in human HGG cells. Our study shows that each agent caused a significant decrease in cell viability in each of the HGG cell lines tested. The increase rate of apoptosis and autophagy varied among cell lines and chemotherapeutic agents used. Increased expression of cytidine-cytidine-adenosine-adenosine-thymidine (C)/enhancer binding protein (EBP) homologous transcription factor C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP)/growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible gene 153 (GADD153) was documented after use of either pro-autophagic or pro-apoptotic agents. The involvement of CHOP/GADD153 in both type I and type II PCD was confirmed by overexpression and gene-silencing studies. Gene silencing by small-interfering RNA-mediated CHOP/GADD153 resulted in increased cell viability, decreased upregulation of microtubule-associated protein light-chain 3' type II (LC3II) and cleaved caspase-3, and inhibition of apoptosis and autophagy. Exogenous expression of CHOP/GADD153 triggered apoptosis and autophagy in the absence of other stimuli. The clinical significance of these findings was supported by the evidence that celecoxib, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug known to induce GADD153-mediated apoptosis, strongly increases both type I and type II PCD in HGG cells when combined with another inducer of GADD153. These data suggest that CHOP/GADD153 should be investigated as a novel targetable signaling step to improve therapies for HGGs.

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