IFN-β induces caspase-mediated apoptosis by disrupting mitochondria in human advanced stage colon cancer cell lines

Shin Hun Juang, Sung Jen Wei, Yi Mei Hung, Chiung Yueh Hsu, Den Mei Yang, Ko Jiunn Liu, Wei Shone Chen, Wen K. Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Various human colon cancer cell lines tested in vitro differed significantly in susceptibility to growth inhibition of recombinant human interferon-β (rHuIFN-β). Two p53-mutant lines, COH and CC-M2, derived from high-grade colon adenocarcinoma, showed signs of apoptosis after treatment with 250 IU/ml of HuIFN-β in the culture medium. The similarly p53-mutated HT-29 line from a grade I adenocarcinoma showed no apoptosis, however, and only cell cycle G1/G0 or S phase retardation with 1000 IU/ml HuIFN-β. After HuIFN-β exposure, COH and CC-M2 cells showed increased levels of Fas and FasL proteins, alteration of mitochondrial membrane potential, and activation of caspase-9, caspase-8, and caspase-3 in a time-dependent manner. Treatment of COH and CC-M2 cells with anti-FasL antibodies or rFas/Fc fusion protein, however, could not prevent the apoptosis induced by HuIFN-β. In contrast, cell-permeable specific inhibitors of the three caspases could inhibit the DNA fragmentation and cell death but not the mitochondrial membrane potential changes. Treatment with mitochondria- stabilizing reagents could significantly abrogate the apoptosis and caspase activation induced by HuIFN-β. These results suggest that in COH and CC-M2 colon cancer cell lines, HuIFN-β induces apoptosis mainly through mitochondrial membrane alteration and subsequent activation of the caspase cascade pathway, but not by the Fas/FasL interaction or the p53-dependent apoptotic mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


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