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J Clin Invest. 1988 Feb;81(2):455-60.

Tumor necrosis factor expression in human epithelial tumor cell lines.

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Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a monokine with in vitro cytotoxicity for some but not all tumor cells. The basis for sensitivity and resistance to the antitumor effects of this agent remains unclear. The present studies have monitored the effects of TNF on 14 epithelial tumor cell lines. Eleven of these cell lines were resistant to the growth inhibitory effects of TNF (50% inhibitory concentration greater than 1,000 U/ml). 12 of the 14 tumor cell lines has detectable levels of high affinity cell surface TNF binding sites, thus suggesting that resistance was not often due to the absence of cell surface TNF receptors. Northern blot analysis demonstrated that three of the eleven resistant cell lines expressed detectable levels of TNF mRNA. Furthermore, both sensitive and resistant epithelial tumor cells had the capacity to express TNF transcripts in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide. Finally, the presence of TNF expression at the RNA level is shown to be associated with the production of a TNF-like protein in the resistant Ov-D ovarian carcinoma cells. These findings suggest that certain human epithelial tumor cell lines inherently resistant to TNF also express this cytokine.

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