Pentoxifylline induces apoptosis in vitro in cutaneous T cell lymphoma (HuT-78) and enhances FasL mediated killing by upregulating Fas expression

Biochem Pharmacol. 2009 Jan 1;77(1):30-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2008.09.018. Epub 2008 Sep 21.


Constitutive nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) is known to play an important role in the survival of HuT-78 cells, a cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) cell line. Here, we have demonstrated that pentoxifylline (PTX), a phosphodiesterase inhibitor, can trigger a series of events leading to apoptosis in HuT-78 cells without affecting NF-kappaB. Apoptosis was ascertained by sub-G1 peak analysis and TUNEL assay. Apoptosis induced by PTX in HuT-78 cells involved mitochondrial hyperpolarization, cytochrome c release, caspase-3 activation and PARP cleavage. Further, it was found that PTX treatment downregulated Bcl-xl and c-FLIP expression without affecting constitutive NF-kappaB but upregulated activator protein-1 (AP-1). Low concentration of PTX upregulated Fas and TRAIL expression in HuT-78 cells. In addition, PTX can act as a scavenger of reactive oxygen intermediate and it could enhance FasL mediated killing in HuT-78 cells. Our results taken together indicated that PTX may be a potential agent for killing CTCL cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fas Ligand Protein / biosynthesis*
  • Fas Ligand Protein / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / genetics
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / pathology
  • Pentoxifylline / pharmacology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • fas Receptor / biosynthesis*
  • fas Receptor / genetics


  • FAS protein, human
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • fas Receptor
  • Pentoxifylline