Dual role for TGF-beta1 in apoptosis

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2005 Feb;16(1):15-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2004.11.002. Epub 2005 Jan 25.


The exposure of cells to TGF-beta1 can trigger a variety of cellular responses including the inhibition of cell growth, migration, differentiation and apoptosis. TGF-beta1-regulated apoptosis is cell type and context-dependent, indeed TGF-beta1 provides signals for both cell survival or apoptosis. The molecular mechanisms underlying the role of TGF-beta1 in apoptosis remains unclear. The proteins that primarily mediate the intracellular signaling of TGF-beta1 are the members of the Smad family. Nevertheless, TGF-beta1 signaling can also cooperate with the death receptor apoptotic pathway (Fas, TNF), with the intracellular modulators of apoptosis JNK and p38 MAP kinases, Akt, NF-kappaB, and with the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway mediated by members of the Bcl-2 family. Moreover, the involvement of TGF-beta1 in the production of oxidative stress and in preventing the inflammatory processes required for the clearance of apoptotic bodies is further evidence of its integration into apoptotic pathways. The interaction and balance between different stimuli provides the basis for the pro- or anti-apoptotic output of TGF-beta1 signaling in a given cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1


  • TGFB1 protein, human
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1