Nuclear factor-κB, cancer, and apoptosis

Vincent Bours*, Mohamed Bentires-Alj, Anne Cécile Hellin, Patrick Viatour, Pierre Robe, Sylvie Delhalle, Valérie Benoit, Marie Paule Merville

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

209 Citations (Scopus)


The role of nuclear factor (NF)-κB in the regulation of apoptosis in normal and cancer cells has been extensively studied in recent years. Constitutive NF-κB activity in B lymphocytes as well as in Hodgkin's disease and breast cancer cells protects these cells against apoptosis. It has also been reported that NF-κB activation by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, chemotherapeutic drugs, or ionizing radiations can protect several cell types against apoptosis, suggesting that NF-κB could participate in resistance to cancer treatment. These observations were explained by the regulation of antiapoptotic gene expression by NF-κB. However, in our experience, inhibition of NF-κB activity in several cancer cell lines has a very variable effect on cell mortality, depending on the cell type, the stimulus, and the level of NF-κB inhibition. Moreover, in some experimental systems, NF-κB activation is required for the onset of apoptosis. Therefore, it is likely that the NF-κB antiapoptotic role in response to chemotherapy is cell type- and signal-dependent and that the level of NF-κB inhibition is important. These issues will have to be carefully investigated before considering NF-κB as a target for genetic or pharmacological anticancer therapies. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1089
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer
  • NF-κB
  • Transcription factors


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