TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a member of the TNF superfamily known to induce apoptosis in a variety of cancers. The purpose of our study was to examine the effects of TRAIL in combination with cisplatin against esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cell lines in vitro and in vivo, and to elucidate underlying molecular mechanisms. Expression profiles of TRAIL receptors were investigated in 19 ESCC (KYSE) cell lines using RT-PCR. Crystal violet staining assays were performed to reveal the sensitivity against TRAIL. Flow cytometric analyses of apoptosis induction and TRAIL receptor expression were performed. Furthermore, Western blot was used to clarify the apoptosis pathway involved, and a nude-mouse xenograft model was used to show effects in vivo. Results show that death receptors (DR) 4 and 5 were expressed in 100% of the cell lines, and 79% (15/19) expressed 4 TRAIL receptors. There was only 1 cell line without decoy receptor expression. Eighteen cell lines were resistant to TRAIL, but in some, the combination treatment with cisplatin could overcome this resistance. They underwent apoptosis via activation of caspase-8 and -3, and cisplatin-dependent upregulation of DR4 and 5 was detected. Furthermore, pretreatment with cisplatin followed by TRAIL resulted in significant tumoricidal effects. Finally, systemic administration of TRAIL with cisplatin synergistically suppressed tumor growth of ESCC xenografts in nude mice. These results provide a significance of cisplatin-induced upregulation of death receptors as apoptosis-inducing machinery, and it was suggested that sequential administration of cisplatin and TRAIL might be a feasible chemotherapeutic regimen against ESCC.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.