Aim: TNF (tumor necrosis factor)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), is a selective killer of tumor cells, although its potential is limited by the development of resistance. In this article, we investigated whether the polyherbal preparation Zyflamend(®) can sensitize tumor cells to TRAIL.
Results: We found that Zyflamend potentiated TRAIL-induced apoptosis in human cancer cells. Zyflamend manifested its effects through several mechanisms. First, it down-regulated the expression of cell survival proteins known to be linked to resistance to TRAIL. Second, Zyflamend up-regulated the expression of pro-apoptotic protein, Bax. Third, Zyflamend up-regulated the expression of death receptors (DRs) for TRAIL. Up-regulation of DRs was critical as gene-silencing of these receptors significantly reduced the effect of Zyflamend on TRAIL-induced apoptosis. The up-regulation of DRs was dependent on CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-homologous protein (CHOP), as Zyflamend induced CHOP, its gene-silencing abolished the induction of receptors, and mutation of the CHOP binding site on DR5 promoter abolished Zyflamend-mediated DR5 transactivation. Zyflamend mediated its effects through reactive oxygen species (ROS), as ROS quenching reduced its effect. Further, Zyflamend induced DR5 and CHOP and down-regulated the expression of cell survival proteins in nude mice bearing human pancreatic cancer cells.
Innovation: Zyflamend can sensitize tumor cells to TRAIL through modulation of multiple cell signaling mechanisms that are linked to ROS.
Conclusion: Zyflamend potentiates TRAIL-induced apoptosis through the ROS-CHOP-mediated up-regulation of DRs, increase in pro-apoptotic protein and down-regulation of cell survival proteins.