Decline in telomerase activity as a measure of tumor cell killing by antineoplastic agents in vitro

Isabella Faraoni, Mario Turriziani, Giovanna Masci, Liana De Vecchis, Jerry W. Shay, Enzo Bonmassar, Grazia Graziani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Telomerase activity is frequently associated with the malignant phenotype, and it can be considered an almost ubiquitous tumor marker. In this study, we evaluated telomerase activity in telomerase-positive human tumor cell lines exposed in vitro to antineoplastic agents. The results show that drug-induced cell killing of tumor cells is associated with a decline in detectable telomerase activity. The decrease of telomerase activity levels paralleled cell growth impairment evaluated by cell count or by measurement of cell ability to convert tetrazolium salt to colored formazan [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide assay]. The observed telomerase activity remaining after treatment with antineoplastic agents is most likely to reflect activity from the remaining viable cells. When tumor cell lines resistant to the chemotherapeutic agents temozolomide or doxorubicin were treated with these compounds, no decline of telomerase activity or cell growth was observed. The results of the present study indicate that resistance of neoplastic cells to chemotherapeutic agents can be monitored by following telomerase activity. Moreover, the test can be performed with a limited number of neoplastic cells, such as those frequently obtained from tumor biopsies. These findings provide a rationale for developing new in vitro chemosensitivity assays, and detection of telomerase activity may be a novel marker of chemotherapy failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-585
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 30 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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