In normal tissue, retinoid hormones—vitamin A-related compounds—play a part in cell growth and death by affecting multiple signal transduction pathways. Presumably by acting on these same pathways, retinoids have also been found to prevent cancer in humans and have been used successfully, in combination with chemotherapy, to treat patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Now, a team of scientists from Strasbourg have identified the mechanism by which retinoids are thought to kill cancerous cells (Nature Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 6, 01 Jun 2001).
Hinrich Gronemeyer and colleagues show that retinoic acid works by triggering the expression of a membrane-bound tumor-selective death chemical called TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand). This system then results in the death of cancerous cells by apoptosis.
In an accompanying News & Views article, Arthur Zelent of Chester Beatty Laboratories in the UK discusses the pros and cons of using TRAIL to augment anti-cancer retinoid therapy.
Dr. Hinrich Gronemeyer
Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire
C.U. de Strasbourg
Tel: +33 3-88-65-3473
Fax: +33 3-88-65-3201
Dr. Arthur Zelent
Institute of Cancer Research
Chester Beatty Laboratories
Tel: +44 207-352-8133
Fax: +44 207-352-3299
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza