Mechanisms of TRAIL and Gemcitabine Induction of Pancreatic Cancer Cell Apoptosis


The aim of this study was to investigate induction of apoptosis by the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and gemcitabine in the pancreatic cancer cell line SW1990. The sensitivity of SW1990 cells to TRAIL and/or gemcitabine-induced apoptosis and the rate of apoptosis were assessed by MTT assay and flow cytometry, respectively. We used Hoechst 33342 staining to observe apoptotic morphology and expression levels of proteins were analyzed by Western blottin. Growth inhibition and apoptosis rates on treatment with the combination of TRAIL and gemcitabine were significantly higher than with each drug alone (p<0.05). Pancreatic cancer cells exhibited a typical apoptosis morphology after treatment with TRAIL or gemcitabine. The levels of cellular apoptosis-associated proteins such as Smac/DIABLO, Cyto C, and the activated fragment of caspase-3 (P17) increased, but the expression of XIAP was significantly decreased after 24 h (p<0.05). SW1990 cells responded to TRAIL and/or gemcitabine-induction of apoptosis in a time and concentration-dependent manner. The mechanism of the apoptosis-sensitization effect appeared associated with significant up-regulation of Smac/DIABLO and cytochrome C, down-regulation of XIAP, and activation of caspase-3.