Human cholangiocarcinoma is a malignancy with no effective therapy and a poor prognosis. Previously, we demonstrated that cultured human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines heterogeneously express Fas on their surface, resulting in 2 subpopulations, Fas-high and Fas-low cells. Fas-low cells are resistant to apoptosis induced by Fas antibody and the calmodulin antagonists tamoxifen and trifluoperazine and are tumorigenic in nude mice (Pan et al., Am J Pathol 1999;155:193-203). Here, we show that IFN-gamma enhances apoptosis in both Fas-high and Fas-low cells. IFN-gamma upregulates many apoptosis-related molecules, including Fas, caspase-3, caspase-4, caspase-7, caspase-8 and Bak, in both cell lines. Pretreatment with IFN-gamma facilitated Fas-mediated caspase cleavage, cytochrome c release and Bax translocation. The ability of IFN-gamma to inhibit tumorigenesis of Fas-low cells was demonstrated in nude mice. Intratumoral injection of IFN-gamma decreased tumor volumes by 78%. These findings indicate that IFN-gamma modulates the apoptotic pathway by upregulating apoptosis-related genes. This renders tumorigenic Fas-low cholangiocarcinoma cells nontumorigenic and sensitive to Fas apoptosis, thus representing a possible therapeutic modality.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.