Molecular basis of cellular response to cisplatin chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (Review)

Gangduo Wang, Eddie Reed, Qingdi Q. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Cisplatin is one of the most potent anticancer agents, displaying significant clinical activity against a variety of solid tumors. For more than two decades, the most effective systemic chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality among men and women in the Western world, was cisplatin-based combination treatment. Unfortunately, the outcome of cisplatin therapy on NSCLC seems to have reached a plateau. Therefore, the biological mechanisms of cisplatin action need to be understood in order to overcome the treatment plateau on NSCLC. Moreover, the development of resistance is a hurdle in the use of this drug. The molecular mechanisms that underlie this chemoresistance are largely unknown. Possible mechanisms of acquired resistance to cisplatin include reduced intracellular accumulation of cisplatin, enhanced drug inactivation by metallothionine and glutathione, increased repair activity of DNA damage, and altered expression of oncogenes and regulatory proteins. In addition, it is generally accepted that cytotoxicity of cisplatin is mediated through induction of apoptosis and arrest of cell cycle resulting from its interaction with DNA, such as the formation of cisplatin-DNA adducts, which activates multiple signaling pathways, including those involving p53, Bcl-2 family, caspases, cyclins, CDKs, pRb, PKC, MAPK and PI3K/Akt. Increased expression of anti-apoptotic genes and mutations in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway may contribute to the inability of cells to detect DNA damage or to induce apoptosis. Towards an understanding of the molecular basis of the cellular response to cisplatin-based chemotherapy in NSCLC, in this review we provide some insights into the pathways involved in cisplatin damage from entering the cells to execution of apoptosis or survival of NSCLC cells. We believe that as more and more molecular mechanisms of response to cisplatin-based therapy are unraveled, this knowledge should provide a basis for further studies to improve our understanding of molecular events associated with lung NSCLC as well as to devise novel and effective therapeutic approaches to overcome the treatment plateau or reverse drug resistance in this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-965
Number of pages11
JournalOncology Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle
  • Cisplatin
  • DNA adduct
  • DNA repair
  • Drug resistance
  • Non-small cell lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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