Apoptosis induction in prostate cancer cells and xenografts by combined treatment with Apo2 ligand/tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand and CPT-11.Cancer Res. 2003 Aug 01; 63(15):4713-23.CR
Because apoptosis is deregulated in most cancers, apoptosis-modulating approaches offer an attractive opportunity for clinical therapy of many tumors, including that of the prostate. LNCaP-derived C4-2 human prostate cancer cells are quite resistant to treatment with Apo2 ligand (Apo2L) or tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), when using a nontagged, Zn-bound recombinant trimeric version that is devoid of any exogeneous sequences and therefore least likely to be immunogenic in human patients and that has been optimized for maximum efficacy and minimum toxicity. When combined with the topoisomerase I inhibitor CPT-11 (irinotecan), Apo2L/TRAIL exhibits enhanced apoptotic activity in C4-2 cells cultured in vitro as well as xenografted as tumors in vivo. Apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo was characterized by two major molecular events. First, apoptosis induction was accompanied by changes in expression levels of the Bcl-2 family genes and their products. However, whereas combination treatment applied to in vitro cell culture was characterized by a significant up-regulation and activation of Bax and down-regulation of Bcl-xL, the treatment applied to tumors induced Bak and Bcl-xS, whereas Bcl-omega and Bcl-xL were down-regulated. Because there are multiple members of the Bcl-2 family (24 members to date), these data indicate that, under different biological conditions, different proteins may be responsible for activating apoptosis and provide evidence for a differential regulation of the multidomain Bcl-2 protein-encoding genes, bax and bak. Increased Bax expression led to its activation, translocation to the mitochondria, and release of cytochrome c. In addition, this combination treatment induced apoptosis through potent activation of caspase-8 and the proapoptotic protein Bid, resulting in activation of effector caspase-3 and cleavage of its cellular target protein, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), events blocked by the pan-caspase inhibitor N-tert-butoxy-carbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoro methylketone (zVAD-fmk). Activation of multiple caspases and PARP cleavage were also observed in the C4-2 tumors treated with doses resulting in effective tumor control at 42 days after Apo2L/TRAIL plus CPT-11 treatment. Down-regulation of Bax by small interference (RNA) (siRNA) in C4-2 cells significantly prevented PARP cleavage and apoptosis. Strikingly, similar experiments in cells stably expressing a dominant-negative death receptor DR5 led to complete ablation of PARP cleavage and apoptosis, indicating the essential role of both mitochondrial and receptor-mediated apoptotic pathways. Our data indicate that the combined treatment of Apo2L/TRAIL and CPT-11 achieves tumor control in prostate cancer tumors through regulation of Bcl-2 family proteins and potent activation of caspases.