The Role of the p53 Tumor Suppressor in the Response of Human Cells to Photofrin-mediated Photodynamic Therapy
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Although there is evidence that the p53 tumor suppressor plays a role in the response of some human cells to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, its role in the response of human cells to photodynamic therapy (PDT) is less clear. In order to examine the role of p53 in cellular sensitivity to PDT, we have examined the clonogenic survival of normal human fibroblasts that express wild-type p53 and immortalized Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) cells that express only mutant p53, following Photofrin-mediated PDT. The LFS cells were found to be more resistant to PDT compared to normal human fibroblasts. The D37 (LFS cells)/D37 (normal human fibroblasts) was 2.8 +/- 0.3 for seven independent experiments. Although the uptake of Photofrin per cell was 1.6 +/- 0.1-fold greater in normal human fibroblast cells compared to that in LFS cells over the range of Photofrin concentrations employed, PDT treatment at equivalent cellular Photofrin levels also demonstrated an increased resistance for LFS cells compared to normal human fibroblasts. Furthermore, adenovirus-mediated transfer and expression of wild-type p53 in LFS cells resulted in an increased sensitivity to PDT but no change in the uptake of Photofrin per cell. These results suggest a role for p53 in the response of human cells to PDT. Although normal human fibroblasts displayed increased levels of p53 following PDT, we did not detect apoptosis or any marked alteration in the cell cycle of GM38 cells, despite a marked loss of cell viability. In contrast, LFS cells exhibited a prolonged accumulation of cells in G2 phase and underwent apoptosis following PDT at equivalent Photofrin levels. The number of apoptotic LFS cells increased with time after PDT and correlated with the loss of cell viability. A p53-independent induction of apoptosis appears to be an important mechanism contributing to loss of clonogenic survival after PDT in LFS cells, whereas the induction of apoptosis does not appear to be an important mechanism leading to loss of cell survival in the more sensitive normal human fibroblasts following PDT at equivalent cellular Photofrin levels.
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