Affiliation: University Children's Hospital, Prittwitzstr. 43, D-89075 Ulm, Germany.
Apoptosis, the cells intrinsic death program, is a key regulator of tissue homeostasis. An imbalance between cell death and proliferation may result in tumor formation. Also, killing of cancer cells by cytotoxic therapies, such as chemotherapy, γ-irradiation or ligation of death receptors is predominantly mediated by triggering apoptosis in target cells. Death receptor signaling pathways have been implied to contribute to the efficacy of cancer therapy. Failure to undergo apoptosis in response to anticancer therapy may lead to resistance. Understanding the molecular events that regulate apoptosis induced by anticancer therapy and how cancer cells evade apoptosis may provide new opportunities for drug development. Thus, novel strategies targeting tumor cell resistance will be based on insights into the molecular mechanisms of cell death.