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Int J Cancer. 1995 Mar 29;61(1):110-4.

Induction of apoptotic cell death in non-melanoma skin cancer by interferon-alpha.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.


Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) is a cytokine that is effective in the treatment of a variety of cancers, including non-melanoma skin cancers. The biologic responses of cells to IFN-alpha are pleiotropic and include growth suppression and immunomodulation. The potential direct effects of IFN-alpha on tumor cell populations are incompletely characterized. Our findings indicate that IFN-alpha can directly induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in sensitive squamous cell skin cancer cell lines. Cell lines resistant to the cytotoxic effects of IFN-alpha showed no evidence of apoptosis induction. Transfection of IFN-alpha-sensitive cell lines with a bcl-2 expression vector conferred partial resistance to cell death induction by IFN-alpha. Our results indicate that the clinical efficacy of IFN-alpha may, in part, be related to the ability of this cytokine to induce apoptosis.

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