Emerging Strategies to Strengthen the Anti-Tumour Activity of Type I Interferons: Overcoming Survival Pathways

M Caraglia, M Marra, P Tagliaferri, S.W.J. Lamberts, S Zappavigna, G Misso, F Cavagnini, G Facchini, A Abbruzzese, Leo Hofland, G (Giovanni) Vitale

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Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) is currently the most used cytokine in the treatment of cancer. However, the potential anti-tumour activity of IFN-alpha is limited by the activation of tumour resistance mechanisms. In this regard, we have shown that IFN-alpha at growth inhibitory concentrations, enhances the EGF-dependent Ras -> Erk signalling and decreases the adenylate cyclase/cAMP pathway activity in cancer cells; both effects represent escape mechanisms to the growth inhibition and apoptosis induced by IFN-alpha The selective targeting of these survival pathways might enhance the antitumor activity of IFN-alpha in cancer cells, as shown by: i) the combination of selective EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (gefitinib) and IFN-alpha having cooperative anti-tumour effects; ii) the farnesyl-transferase inhibitor R115777 strongly potentiating the anti-tumour activity of IFN-alpha both in vitro and in vivo through the inhibition of different escape mechanisms that are dependent on isoprenylation of intracellular proteins such as ras; iii) the cAMP reconstituting agent (8-Br-cAMP) enhancing the pro-apoptotic activity of IFN-alpha. IFN-beta is a multifunctional cytokine binding the same receptor of IFN-alpha but with higher affinity (10-fold) and differential structural interactions. We recently showed that IFN-beta is considerably more potent than IFN-alpha in its anti-tumour effect through the induction of apoptosis and/or cell cycle arrest in S-phase. The emergence of long-acting pegylated forms of IFN-beta makes this agent a promising anti-cancer drug. These observations open a new scenario of anticancer intervention able to strengthen the antitumor activity of IFN-alpha or to use more potent type I IFNs.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)690-704
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Cancer Drug Targets
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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  • EMC MM-01-39-01

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