Interferon-α and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor cooperatively mediates TRAIL-induced apoptosis in hepatocellular carcinoma

Chaohui Zuo, Xiaoxin Qiu, Nianli Liu, Darong Yang, Man Xia, Jingshi Liu, Xiaohong Wang, Haizhen Zhu, Hailong Xie, Hanguo Dan, Qinglong Li, Qunfeng Wu, Michael Burns, Chen Liu
Experimental Cell Research 2015 May 1, 333 (2): 316-26
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Interferon-alpha (IFN-α) has recently been recognized to harbor therapeutic potential in the prevention and treatment of HCC, but it remains controversial as to whether IFN-α exerts direct cytotoxicity against HCC. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is overexpressed in HCC and is considered to play a role in hepatocarcinogenesis. Therefore, we aimed to elucidate the combined effect of a COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib, and IFN-α on in vitro growth suppression of HCC using the hepatoma cell line HLCZ01 and the in vivo nude mouse xenotransplantation model using HLCZ01 cells. Treatment with celecoxib and IFN-α synergistically inhibited cell proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Apoptosis was identified by 4׳,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride and fluorescent staining. IFN-α upregulated the expression of TRAIL, while celecoxib increased the expression of TRAIL receptors. The combined regimen with celecoxib and IFN-α reduced the growth of xenotransplanted HCCs in nude mice. The regulation of IFN-α- and COX-2 inhibitor-induced cell death is impaired in a subset of TRAIL-resistant cells. The molecular mechanisms of HCC cells resistant to TRAIL-induced apoptosis were explored using molecular biological and immunological methods. Interferon-α and the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib synergistically increased TRAIL-induced apoptosis in hepatocellular carcinoma. These data suggest that IFN-α and celecoxib may offer a novel role with important implications in designing new therapeutics for TRAIL-resistant tumors.

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