Extrinsic versus intrinsic apoptosis pathways in anticancer chemotherapy

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Abstract

Apoptosis or programmed cell death is a key regulator of physiological growth control and regulation of tissue homeostasis. One of the most important advances in cancer research in recent years is the recognition that cell death mostly by apoptosis is crucially involved in the regulation of tumor formation and also critically determines treatment response. Killing of tumor cells by most anticancer strategies currently used in clinical oncology, for example, chemotherapy, γ-irradiation, suicide gene therapy or immunotherapy, has been linked to activation of apoptosis signal transduction pathways in cancer cells such as the intrinsic and/or extrinsic pathway. Thus, failure to undergo apoptosis may result in treatment resistance. Understanding the molecular events that regulate apoptosis in response to anticancer chemotherapy, and how cancer cells evade apoptotic death, provides novel opportunities for a more rational approach to develop molecular-targeted therapies for combating cancer.

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