TRAIL death receptors and cancer therapeutics

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2007 Nov 1;224(3):284-9. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2006.12.007. Epub 2006 Dec 15.


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) also known as Apo2L is an apoptotic molecule that belongs to the tumor necrosis factor superfamily of cytokines. It mediates its apoptotic effects via its cognate death receptors including DR4 and DR5. Agonistic monoclonal antibodies have also been developed that selectively activate TRAIL death receptors to mediate apoptosis. Multiple clinically relevant agents also upregulate the expression of TRAIL death receptors, and cooperate with TRAIL as well as DR4 and DR5-specific agonistic antibodies to exhibit tumor cell killing. TRAIL is currently in phase I clinical trials, whereas DR4 and DR5-specific agonistic antibodies have been tested in phase I and II studies. Thus, TRAIL has clearly distinguished itself from the other family members including TNF-alpha and FasL both of which could not make it to the clinic due to their toxic nature. It is therefore, evident that the future of TRAIL-based therapeutic approaches looks brighter.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / immunology
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / physiology*
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / physiology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand