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Role Of Caspase-8 Activation In Mediating Vitamin E-Induced Apoptosis In Murine Mammary Cancer Cells

Sumit J Shah, A. Gapor, P. Sylvester
Published 2003 · Biology, Medicine

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The vitamin E family of compounds is divided into two subgroups, tocopherols and tocotrienols. However, tocotrienols display more potent apoptotic activity in mammary cancer cells. Although the mechanism(s) mediating tocotrienol-induced apoptosis is presently unknown, apoptosis is carried out by activation of initiator caspases (caspase-8 or -9) that subsequently activate effector caspases (caspase-3, -6, or -7). Studies were conducted to determine whether tocotrienol-induced apoptosis is mediated by activation of the caspase-8 and/or caspase-9 pathway. Highly malignant +SA mouse mammary epithelial cells were grown in culture and maintained on serum-free media. Treatment with tocotrienol-rich-fraction of palm oil (TRF) and γ-tocotrienol, but not α-tocopherol, induced a dose-dependent decrease in +SA cell viability. TRF- and γ-tocotrienol-induced cell death resulted from apoptosis, as determined by DNA fragmentation and positive TUNEL assay staining. Additional studies showed that treatment with 50 μM TRF or 20 μM γ-tocotrienol increased intracellular activity and levels of processed caspase-8 and -3 but not caspase-9. Furthermore, treatment with specific caspase-8 or -3 inhibitors, but not caspase-9 inhibitor, completely blocked the tocotrienol-induced apoptosis in +SA cells. These findings demonstrate that tocotrienol-induced apoptosis in +SA mammary cancer cells is mediated through activation of the caspase-8 signaling pathway and is independent of caspase-9 activation.
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