We examined the effect of paclitaxel on human osteoblastic cells Saos-2 to determine if paclitaxel can affect proliferation and apoptosis. We used a p53-negative cell line in order to mimic the loss of function frequently observed at the clinical level. Paclitaxel induced cell death in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Marked nuclear condensation and fragmentation of chromatin were observed by Hoechst 33258 stain, DNA ladder formation, electron microscopy, and flow cytometry at concentrations as low as 100 nM, a concentration which can be achieved by infusion in human plasma. At 100 nM, paclitaxel induced a G2 arrest at 8 h of treatment. The cells then continued to accumulate in G2 until 72 h when the percentage of apoptotic events reached 54%. At the molecular level, Bcl-2 protein was phosphorylated at 16 h and PARP protein was cleaved, indicating the activation of caspase-3-like proteases. Caspase inhibitors Z-VAD-FMK and Z-DEVD-FMK rescued Saos-2 cells from paclitaxel-induced apoptosis. CD95 expression was constantly high, while CD95L showed a threefold increase in expression. This suggests that, following the G2 arrest, apoptosis is induced through the CD95/CD95L system.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.