Objective: Recurrence and subsequent acquired chemoresistance to platinum-based treatments constitute major hurdles to ovarian carcinoma therapy. Our objective was to examine the involvement of Bcl-xL anti-apoptotic protein in resistance to cisplatin.
Methods: We described the effect of cisplatin on cell cycle and apoptosis induction in sensitive (IGROV1 and OAW42) and resistant (IGROV1-R10 and SKOV3) ovarian carcinoma cell lines. We correlated it with Bcl-xL mRNA and protein expression after exposure to cisplatin. We then used bcl-xS gene transfer to impede Bcl-xL activity.
Results: Our study showed that Bcl-xL basal expression was high in both sensitive and resistant cell lines, as well as in all the studied ovarian tumor samples. Thus, Bcl-xL basal expression could not allow to predict sensitivity. Wondering whether variation of Bcl-xL level in response to cisplatin could be a better determinant of sensitivity, we investigated the expression of this protein in the cell lines after treatment. Cisplatin-induced down-regulation of Bcl-xL was strictly associated with apoptosis and absence of recurrence in vitro. Conversely, the maintenance of Bcl-xL expression in response to cisplatin appeared as a sine qua non condition to escape to treatment. To try to sensitize SKOV3 cells by impeding anti-apoptotic activity of Bcl-xL, we transfected bcl-xS gene in these cells. Bcl-xS exogenous expression was only slightly cytotoxic on its own, but highly sensitized SKOV3 resistant cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis, and delayed recurrence.
Conclusion: This work thus provides one more argument to put Bcl-xL forward as a pertinent target of inhibition to overcome chemoresistance of epithelial ovarian carcinoma.