Background: Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is known for its selective cytotoxic activity on tumour cells. We analysed the response of HT-29 human colon carcinoma cells to this cytokine.
Materials and methods: After TNF-alpha treatment, cell proliferation, cell cycle, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production (flow cytometry), the amount of apoptotic cells (flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy), cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and caspase-3 activity (Western blotting) were detected.
Results: TNF-alpha induced a decrease of cell growth and viability, an accumulation of cells in the S-phase of the cell cycle, an increase of subdiploid cell population and nuclear chromatin condensation and fragmentation, but not sooner than 96-120 hours. However, earlier events characteristic of apoptosis occurred, such as caspase-3 activation, PARP cleavage to 89 kDa fragment and changes in ROS production.
Conclusion: We demonstrated that, in addition to being an early marker of apoptosis, activation of caspase-3 and degradation of PARP may play a causative role in HT-29 cell death induced by TNF-alpha.