how to identify truly apoptosis

Tue Dec 16 06:31:08 EST 2003

I have trained as a pharmacologist, and have done work on apoptosis as part
of my year in industry during my pharmacology degree. What you seem to be
asking is how do you differentiate between drugs that induce the apoptotic
machinery and drugs that damage the cell and the cell responds by going into

This simple answer is "not easy". You would need to do extensive lab work on
each drug to identify it's mechanism of action, by systematically inhibiting
enzymes in the apoptotic pathways and/or have cell lines that lack a certain
enzyme in the apoptotic pathways. Needless to say, finding the mechanism of
action for drug is not a trivial matter, and requires extensive work (ofetn
years). Also, apoptotic pathways are somewhat redundent, hence, if you
inhibit an enzyme in the apoptotic pathway that you think your drug is
inducing, the inhibited enzyme can be bypassed by one of the alternative
apoptotic routes.

It depends on what your final goal is, it is often enough to look for the
signs of apoptosis.....reply with further details of what you are trying to


"Tom Anderson" <ucgatan at> wrote in message
news:Pine.SOL.4.33.0312151257240.6388-100000 at
> On 13 Dec 2003, jaymone wrote:
> > Not true that any drug can induce apoptosis.  Many drugs kill cells
> > without inducing apoptosis.  The only way to identify
> > apoptosis-inducing drugs is to expose cells to the drug and look for
> > markers of apoptosis, such as caspase activation, DNA laddering,
> > chromatin condensation, etc.
> But that won't distinguish between drugs which have an effect which the
> cell responds to by apoptosing (eg etoposide, which causes DNA damage) and
> drugs which trigger apoptosis directly, by acting on the apoptotic
> machinery. I'm not certain, but i think that's what the OP was getting at.
> I have no advice myself, except to consult a pharmacologist, who ought to
> know about this sort of stuff.
> tom
> -- 
> Tom Anderson, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, UCL

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