Possible mechanisms of paclitaxel-induced apoptosis

Biochem Pharmacol. 1999 Jun 1;57(11):1215-21. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(99)00006-4.


Paclitaxel, a naturally occurring antimicrotubule agent, has been demonstrated to possess significant cell-killing activity in a variety of tumor cells through induction of apoptosis. It is currently unclear whether this finding suggests a novel mechanism of action for paclitaxel against tumor cells or just represents an end product of the well-known action of paclitaxel on microtubules and cell cycle arrest. Morphologically, a sustained block of mitosis seems to be required for paclitaxel-induced apoptosis because most apoptotic events are observed to occur in cells showing a prior mitotic arrest. However, this morphological correlation alone does not prove that paclitaxel-induced apoptosis is indeed a secondary event resulting from mitotic arrest. Instead, several lines of evidence obtained from recent studies have suggested that apoptotic cell death induced by paclitaxel may occur via a signaling pathway independent of microtubules and G2/M arrest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Drug Interactions
  • G2 Phase / drug effects
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology*
  • Taxoids*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Alkaloids
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Taxoids
  • baccatin III
  • Paclitaxel