Fas/CD95-mediated apoptosis in human glioblastoma cells: A target for sensitisation to topoisomerase I inhibitors

Emilio Ciusani, Paola Perego, Nives Carenini, Elisabetta Corna, Federica Facchinetti, Amerigo Boiardi, Andrea Salmaggi, Franco Zunino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The expression of the death receptor Fas/CD95 is cell type-specific and can be modulated by different cytotoxic treatments. In spite of a frequent expression of Fas/CD95 in high-grade gliomas, these tumours are typically refractory to conventional therapy. Using a human glioblastoma cell line (GBM), we explored the possibility of modulating susceptibility to Fas/CD95-mediated apoptosis following cytotoxic treatment. GBM cells were sensitive to the antiproliferative effects of topoisomerase I inhibitors (topotecan and a novel lipophilic analog CPT83) and taxol, less sensitive to cisplatin and, in any case, rather resistant to drug-induced apoptosis. This pattern of cellular response was consistent with p53 mutation. GBM cells expressed low levels of Fas/CD95, which was associated with low susceptibility to antibody-stimulated Fas/CD95-mediated apoptosis. A significant up-regulation of Fas/CD95 expression was detected after exposure to topotecan and CPT83, whereas cisplatin induced a low increase and taxol did not modify Fas/CD95 expression. In addition, after treatment with topoisomerase I inhibitors, the up-regulation of Fas/CD95 resulted in an increased susceptibility of GBM cells to antibody-stimulated Fas/CD95-mediated apoptosis, while no synergistic effects were detected after treatment with cisplatin or taxol. Our data suggest that Fas/CD95 up-regulation can be a common response to DNA damage, whereas sensitisation to Fas/CD95-mediated apoptosis appears to be dependent on the type of DNA damage and on the pathway of cellular response. The observed effects might have important therapeutic implications for the design of novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of malignant gliomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-887
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2002


  • Apoptosis
  • DNA damaging agents
  • Fas/CD95
  • Human glioblastoma
  • Taxol
  • Topoisomerase I inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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