TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL): A potential candidate for combined treatment of hematological malignancies

Paola Secchiero, Mauro Vaccarezza, Arianna Gonelli, Giorgio Zauli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a member of the TNF gene superfamily, which induces apoptosis through engagement of death receptors. TRAIL is unusual as compared to the other cytokines of this family, as it interacts with a complex system of receptors consisting of two pro-apoptotic death receptors (TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2) and three decoy receptors (TRAIL-R3, TRAIL-R4 and osteoprotegerin). Moreover, with respect to other members of the TNF superfamily, such as CD95L and TNF-α, TRAIL has generated great interest as a potential tumor-specific cancer therapeutic because as a stable soluble trimer it selectively induces apoptosis in many transformed cells but not in normal cells. Of note, TRAIL cytotoxicity is at least partially independent of the major systems involved in resistance to chemotherapy, such as p53 wild-type function and multidrug resistance (MDR) genes. Since one fundamental problem of most cancers is the development of multiple mechanisms of resistance, which progressively reduce or suppress the therapeutic efficacy of conventional chemotherapy, new therapeutic approaches that either restore the pro-apoptotic activity of chemotherapeutic drugs or by-pass the mechanisms of resistance are highly desirable. This review will focus on the potential of TRAIL for its application in the therapy of hematological malignancies, used either alone or in combination with chemotherapy. The scenario emerging from the literature is that the treatment and management of hematological malignancies will require the rational combination of TRAIL plus conventional or new drugs in a regimen that would optimize the anti-neoplastic activity in malignant cells resistant to chemotherapy through restoration of the pro-apoptotic activity of TRAIL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3673-3681
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspases
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • NF-κB
  • Signal transduction
  • Tumor chemoresistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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