Fundamental principals of tumor necrosis factor-alpha gene therapy approach and implications for patients with lung carcinoma

Lung Cancer. 2004 May;44(2):199-211. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2003.11.017.


Apoptosis, known as programmed cell death, is defined as a cell's preferred form of death under hectic conditions through genetically conserved and complex pathways. There is a decisive balance between stimulatory and inhibitory signaling pathways to maintain homeostasis in cells. In order to shift the balance towards apoptosis, the modulation of both apoptotic and anti-apoptotic pathways represents an attractive target for cancer therapeutics. Currently, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are among the most commonly used treatment modalities against lung cancer. Tumor suppressor gene, p53, is required in order for both of these treatment methods to work as anti-tumor agents. As a result, tumors lacking p53 display resistance to both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, death ligands induce apoptosis regardless of p53 status of cells. Thus, these methods constitute a complementary therapeutic approach to currently employed conventional treatment modalities. At present, death ligands are being evaluated as potential cancer therapeutic agents. Since resistance to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha-mediated apoptosis represented an obstacle for the treatment of patients with lung carcinoma in the earlier attempts, an extensive research was recently initiated to understand molecular mechanism of TNF-alpha signaling. NF-kappaB transcription factors have been demonstrated to modulate the apoptotic program, mostly as blockers of apoptosis in different cell types. In this review, we concentrate on the current progress in the understanding of TNF-alpha-mediated apoptosis for lung carcinoma. Representative models of NF-kappaB-inhibiting gene therapy strategies from various labs including ours are also provided as examples of up-to-date approaches to defeat TNF resistance. In order to give the reader better understanding and appreciation of such approaches, previously unpublished in vivo assays are also incorporated into this review. Current progress in clinical trials using adenovirus-mediated delivery of TNF-alpha is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • NF-kappa B / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha