The glucocorticoid dexamethasone is frequently used as co-treatment in cytotoxic cancer therapy, e.g. to prevent nausea, to protect normal tissue or for other reasons. While the potent pro-apoptotic properties and the supportive effects of glucocorticoids to tumour therapy in lymphoid cells are well studied, the impact to cytotoxic treatment of colorectal and hepatocellular carcinoma is unknown. We tested apoptosis-induction, viability, tumour growth and protein expression using 8 established cell lines, 18 surgical specimen and a xenograft on nude mice. In the presence of dexamethasone we found strong inhibition of apoptosis in response to 5-FU, cisplatin, gemcitabine or gamma-irradiation, enhanced viability and tumour growth of colorectal and hepatocellular carcinomas. No correlation with age, gender, histology, TNM, the p53 status and induction of therapy resistance by dexamethasone co-treatment could be detected. These data show that glucocorticoid-induced resistance occurs not occasionally but is common in colorectal and hepatocellular carcinomas implicating that the use of glucocorticoids may be harmful for cancer patients.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published