Chemotherapeutic agents sensitize osteogenic sarcoma cells, but not normal human bone cells, to Apo2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis

Int J Cancer. 2002 Jun 1;99(4):491-504. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10376.


Apo2L/TRAIL is a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family of cytokines that induces death of cancer cells but not normal cells. Its potent apoptotic activity is mediated through its cell surface death domain-containing receptors, DR4 and DR5. Apo2L/TRAIL interacts also with 3 "decoy" receptors that do not induce apoptosis, DcR1, DcR2, which lack functional death domains, and osteoprotegerin (OPG). The aim of our study was to investigate the cytotoxic activity of Apo2L/TRAIL on established osteogenic sarcoma cell lines (BTK-143, HOS, MG-63, SJSA-1, G-292 and SAOS2) and in primary cultures of normal human bone (NHB) cells. When used alone, Apo2L/TRAIL at 100 ng/ml for 24 hr induced greater than 80% cell death in only 1 (BTK-143) of the 6 osteogenic sarcoma cell lines. In contrast, Apo2L/TRAIL-resistant cells were susceptible to Apo2L/TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in the presence of the anticancer drugs, Doxorubicin (DOX), Cisplatin (CDDP) and Etoposide (ETP) but not Methotrexate (MTX) or Cyclophosphamide (CPM). Importantly, neither Apo2L/TRAIL alone nor in combination with any of these drugs affected primary normal human bone cells under equivalent conditions. Apo2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis, and its augmentation by chemotherapy in the resistant cell lines was mediated through caspase-8 and caspase-3 activation. Furthermore, Apo2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis and its augmentation by chemotherapy was effectively inhibited by caspase-8 zIETD-fmk and caspase-3 zDEVD-fmk protease inhibitors and by the pan-caspase inhibitor zVAD-fmk. The pattern of basal Apo2L/TRAIL receptor mRNA expression, or expression of the intracellular caspase inhibitor FLICE-inhibitory protein, FLIP, could not be readily correlated with resistance or sensitivity to Apo2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis. However, the augmentation of Apo2L/TRAIL effects by chemotherapy was associated with drug-induced up-regulation of death receptors DR4 and DR5 mRNA and protein. No obvious correlation was seen between the expression of OPG mRNA or protein and susceptibility of cells to Apo2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Stable over-expression of a dominant negative form of the Fas-associated death domain protein (FADD) in the Apo2L/TRAIL-sensitive BTK-143 cells completely inhibited Apo2L/TRAIL-induced cell death. Our results indicate that chemotherapy and Apo2L/TRAIL act synergistically to kill cancer cells but not normal bone-derived osteoblast-like cells, which has implications for future therapy of osteosarcoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bone Neoplasms / diet therapy
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / cytology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Osteosarcoma / drug therapy
  • Osteosarcoma / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Sarcoma / metabolism*
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNFRSF11B protein, human
  • TNFSF10 protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Caspases